At least eight Christian children were killed after Islamic extremists attacked Christian and Kurdish neighborhoods in Aleppo as the five-year Syrian civil war shows no signs of abating.
According to a report from Christian Today, Demand for Action (ADFA), a group working for the protection of minorities in the Middle East, revealed that terrorists suspected to be affiliated with al Qaeda on Monday attacked the Christian neighborhood of Sulaymaniyah in Aleppo, the largest city in Syria.
"It was only weeks after photos had been circulated all over the world, depicting the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II celebrating with the inhabitants of Aleppo, that Christians were finally safe. Now, they are under heavy attack again. Many children were killed today," ADFA said.
It posted a video clip by Inews, in which Aleppo residents "are begging the world not to forget them. They cry out: 'They want to exterminate us. Enough is enough. We have been forgotten, why... why... we are begging...'"
UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack left 19 dead and 120 injured, the Middle East Eye relays. Speaking to Christian Today, ADFA's founder Nuri Kino, an Assyrian, confirmed Kurdish and Christian children had been killed in the fighting.
"Turkish forces fighting together with the so-called opposition have been fighting the regime's army for a couple of days now, heavy fighting. But what people could not see coming was the attacks against Christian neighbourhoods," he said. "Kurdish neighbourhoods have also been attacked. Both the Christians and the Kurdish are seen as the enemy, it's a mess."
He revealed that a relative living in Aleppo told him of the heartbreak felt across the city: "We were praying that we could get some rest from the war, that it is over, just weeks ago we started to get normal life back. Now, we have lost all hope, we just want out of here, there is no one to protect us. I can't take it any more, I can't see more friends, relatives or neighbors lose their children from the bombs of the terrorists.
The relative added, "We are all dead, in a way or another, life came back to us as for a vacation but now dead has taken over again. We are begging the world to find a solution to stop this war, please, please, no more children suffering, tell them Nuri, tell them".
Reuters notes that intensified fighting in the devastated region has all but destroyed a partial ceasefire that started at the end of February, with U.N.-led peace talks in disarray.
A Syrian military source said the army would "respond firmly" against rebels attacking government-held parts of Aleppo.
Meanwhile, on Monday, US President Barack Obama has said he plans to send 250 more troops to Syria after a meeting in Hanover with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"I've decided to increase US support for local forces...I've approved the deployment of up to 250 US personnel in Syria, including special forces," Obama said.