Senior Syrian Priest Shot As He Enters Aleppo

Mgr Boutros Kassis, Patriarchal Delegate of the Archdiocese of Aleppo (L) has been shot and wounded.Syriac Patriarchate

A senior Syrian Orthodox cleric has been shot as he entered the city of Aleppo.

Mgr Raban Boutros Kassis, patriarchal Vicar of Aleppo, was returning to the city from Homs in an area controlled by Syrian government troops but closed at night because of the activity of rebel forces, described as "terrorists" by regime supporters.

Kassis was wounded by two bullets in the shoulder on November 6, according to the Fides news agency. He was taken to the St Louis Catholic Hospital where he underwent surgery to remove them.

He told Fides: "I thank God who protected and kept me alive. I thank God because in this condition and in this experience I can share the cross with so many people that today suffer in Syria, especially in Aleppo.

"Every day we suffer assaults and bombings, every day people are wounded and die. I am happy to taste the bitterness of the cross, in communion with Christ and with so many innocent people who suffer. We have the certainty that death is not the last word, but that the end is Resurrection."

The Syrian army has made significant gains in Aleppo and claims to have captured a strategic district in what could be a decisive blow against the rebel forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it most significant gain by the government in Aleppo since September.

Rebel sources said the fighting in the area claimed by the regime was still continuing.