'20 Churches Destroyed' As Airstrikes Continue To Pound Aleppo

Some twenty churches have been destroyed in Aleppo, Syria according to a senior Russian official.

A damaged site after airstrikes on the rebel-held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo. A Russian official has claimed that 20 churches have been destroyed in the Syrian city.Reuters

The Interfax news agency reported the claim by the deputy chairman of the Commission for UNESCO of the Russian Federation and the Committee for Russian-Syrian cooperation, Alexander Dzasokhov.

According to Interfax, Dzasokhov told The Church and the World TV programme on the Rossiya-24 channel: "It is a magnificent city in Syria [Aleppo] that was famous not only for its renowned architecture and cultural sites, but it was a place where [a] Christian aspect of this long-suffering nation has always been present. It suffers great destructions now. According to the recent data, twenty churches were destroyed there."

Dzasokhov added: "I do not exaggerate. That is why the necessity to preserve Syria as a country with a lot of historical and exemplary things is the task not only for the persistent, courageous and worthy Syrian people, but all other peoples and states."

Earlier this month, a prominent Syriac Catholic church in Aleppo was damaged in a shell attack, in violation of the ceasefire.

The Syrian Arab News Agency filmed and reported the attack by the Free Syrian Army in the Al-Aziziyah District of northern Aleppo.

The missile appeared to have hit the second floor of the church, the Cathedral of Our Lady, which is in a part of the city that has a large Christian population.

Several archeological sites that date back to the Crusades, along with mosques and churches, have been destroyed in the fighting, AINA reported.

Last month, a Jesuit priest in Aleppo, Fr Ziad Hilal described how the Catholic Church is continuing to help those remaining in the city despite an upsurge of intense fighting that in recent months has killed scores, displaced thousands and cut water and power to up to two million people on both sides of the front line.