Priest calls for prayers as heavy fighting rages in Aleppo: 'No words to describe all the suffering'

A boy rides a bicycle near damaged buildings in the rebel-held area of Old Aleppo, Syria on May 5, 2016.Reuters

A Franciscan priest is appealing to Christians throughout the world to pray for the suffering residents of the Syrian city of Aleppo, which he said is in "so much misery" as heavy fighting rages between Syrian government forces and rebel groups.

Father Ibrahim Alsabagh's plea comes after more than 17 people were killed when bombs hit a hospital recently. The number of people suffering from nervous breakdowns and psychological illnesses are also reportedly increasing as a result of the continuous war.

"Never, since the beginning of this terrible war, were things as bad as they are now. I have no words to describe all the suffering I see on a daily basis," the priest told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

"Rockets and bombs are raining down on churches, mosques, schools and hospitals. Now 17 people have been killed in an attack on our hospital. And the casualties may yet be higher. So many houses have been partially or entirely destroyed, and so many people killed or severely injured. And when the bombs do stop falling, there is an eerie silence, like in a cemetery. The streets are as though everyone has died."

The priest, who has worked for almost two years in the divided city of northern Syria, said the only consolation he can give to the suffering people is to read them the Word of God.

"I thank God that through His grace I am able to be a Good Samaritan to all the suffering people. We priests and religious have really become fathers, and still more mothers, to the people, trying to bind up their wounds tenderly, like a mother."

While expressing hopes that those who have escaped are able to secure their lives, Father Alsabagh lamented that many of those who were left behind are the poorest of all.

"They are the ones who cannot even afford to look for a place of safety. We are helping them, wherever and however we can," the priest said.

Father Alsabagh noted, however, that despite the heavy crosses many local Christians are carrying now, he saw some good in it.

"This suffering also creates a communion with God and with one another such as I have never seen before."