New bishop's inauguration signify hope for Syrian Christians

A new Syriac Orthodox bishop was inaugurated on Aug. 19 in the city of Hasakeh in Syria, and signified hope for the local Christians as it has been four years since their last bishop left the country.

(REUTERS / Rodi Said)Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate August 11, 2014.

Syria has been torn by conflict and war for six years, and the violence and Christian persecution at the hands of the Islamic State militants caused millions of people to become refugees. For this reason, the arrival of Archbishop Maurice Amseeh in Hasakeh heralds hope for their community, Agence France-Presse reported.

"It's true that many have left, but we're still here, and what happened today is the proof that we're still here in this country and that we will stay," 23-year-old Saint George Cathedral parishioner Jenny Hakop said.

Georgette, a 37-year-old schoolteacher, hopes that Archbishop Amseeh could revive their church. She said it is difficult to have a congregation without a bishop to guide them.

The new bishop's mandate covers the Syriac Orthodox community in Jazeera and Euphrates region, which includes the ISIS-controlled Deir Ezzor province. He vowed to travel to the place as soon as it is liberated from Islamist rule. He said he would help the people rebuild their lives there.

"As soon as Deir Ezzor is freed from terrorism, I will make a blessed trip there to start rebuilding both buildings and people," Archbishop Amseeh told the AFP.

Meanwhile, Kurdish-led forces in Syria managed to extract seven Christians from Raqqa on Aug. 6. Four women and three men were able to flee using a route opened by the Syriac Military Council a couple of days before they were rescued, the World Watch Monitor details.

As U.S.-led coalition troops marched towards Raqqa to retake the city from ISIS, civilians have reportedly been caught in the crossfire. The coalition has managed to liberate half of the place in two months.