Syriac church hit by rebel missiles in Aleppo

Bomb damage in the rebel-held al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria, pictured yesterday.Reuters

A prominent Syriac Catholic church in Aleppo, Syria has been 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 over the weekend.

The missile appears 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.

According to the news agency, there were 23 violations of the ceasefire in just one day in Aleppo last week.

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

Aleppo pastor Fr Ibrahim Alsabagh told AsiaNews about "isolated incidents of violence" that cause distress to the civilian population. 

A proper truce which lasts is needed if populations are to recover, he said. 

Alsabagh said the church and bishop's resident had been targeted by rockets and mortar fire for a while. Aleppo's civilians are exhaused by the conflict, he added. 

The rocket hit the roof of the bishop's house, the clergyman said, and ended up in an empty guest room. "Neither the bishop nor his vicar were present at the time, and this prevented casualties or injuries. The damages to the building remain," he told AsiaNews.

"Since the beginning of the truce, a relative palpable calm prevails. However, missiles and rockets against homes and churches have broken this apparent normality. They are sudden and maintain a climate of instability and insecurity."

Washington and Moscow agreed a ceasefire in an attempt to halt the devastation in Syria's five-year war that has caused nearly half a million deaths and caused nearly five million refugees to flee abroad.

Thousands more are still trapped in Aleppo and in desperate need of fuel, food and medical supplies. Aid convoys are unable to get through because of terrorist forces blocking the roads.