After six years of been shut down due to disaster caused by Islamic fighters, a Syrian church has held prayers for the first time.
It was recorded that about 24 people gathered at St Mary’s Church in Deir az-Zour, eastern Syria at the weekend for the first service in six years.
The Islamic terrorist group seized the city in 2012 and the Christian inhabitants fled. In November 2017, the government of the country recaptured the city and Christian residents are gradually returning back home.
The service was led by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Aphrem II. Some Muslim clerics also attended.
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The patriarch said: ‘It’s an indescribable feeling for us to pray in a nearly-destroyed church, which serves as a consolation for our hearts and a message of hope to the people of the city to come back and take part in building it anew.’
Local bishop Maurice Amseeh called on Christians to return to their city. You cannot run away from your city forever. Therefore, it is time to return.
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‘The important thing now is for life to come back – for Deir az-Zour’s residents and Christians to come back to it,’ he told worshippers.
Deir az-Zour is the largest city in eastern Syria with a christian population of about 3,000 before the war.