Patriarch Gregorios III, Syria‘s most senior Christian leader, says bombs were found at ancient Cathedral of Constantine and Helen in rebel-held town of Yabroud
Bombs have been planted in the confessional box of one of the world’s oldest churches in a Syrian town hailed as the country’s last remaining centre of religious tolerance, Syria’s most senior Christian leader has disclosed.
On a visit to London to highlight the persecution of Christians in the civil war, Patriarch Gregorios III said the two devices were found at the Cathedral of Constantine and Helen in the rebel-held town of Yabroud.
Not only is the church one of the oldest in the world, but it lies in a town where Christians and Sunni Muslims have so far resisted efforts by al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel groups to drive a wedge between them.
As The Telegraph reported on a visit to Yabroud earlier this month, a self-appointed local council has tried to keep both foreign jihadists and local mafia gangs at bay, as well as government forces. Only last week the Syrian army shelled the church.
The Patriarch said that early on Tuesday morning, two remote controlled bombs were discovered planted in the church, one of them in the confessional box. Challenging the town’s image of harmony, he also claimed that local Christian families had been asked to pay a monthly protection tax of $35,000 by local “armed groups”.