The battle for Aleppo: The destruction of the oldest city on Earth
Watching the coverage of Syria's civil war , I can't help but think back to the day three springs ago when I walked around Aleppo's ancient central fortress, a structure that has stood since biblical times. That fortress in the world's oldest continuously inhabited city (10,000 years) was just one jewel in that beautiful country that, like Iraq, must be counted among the cradles of human civilization.
The friends I visited there, Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak, who lived in Damascus and created a program to help Iraqi refugees  come to the U.S. for college, have been sending reports over the past year of the plight of ordinary Syrians, whose country is in their words, caught "between far more powerful and far more wealthy nations are having it out. Iran vs. Saudi. US vs. Russia. Israel looks on hoping another neighboring country will be incapacitated, perhaps broken in pieces. Syrians and their everyday lives, their long history, their contributions to culture and science, their daily kindness and hospitality, their needs--such things mean nothing to the big players."
Hard words from the ground, but a lot of truth in them. However it ends, Syria's civil war is, as the late Pope John Paul II put it, another "defeat for humanity," a destruction not only of beautiful human lives but priceless human heritage.
UPDATE: Friend and colleague Michael LaCivita of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, a pontifical society that aids Christians in and around the Holy Land, including Syria, is coordinating emergency relief efforts in Syria, partnering with Catholic and Orthodox organizations in Syria. For more information, visit CNEWA's website.