- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bombs have been planted in the confessional box of one of the world’s oldest churches in the rebel-held town of Yabroud, Syria’s most senior Christian leader has revealed.

While visiting in London, Patriarch Gregorios III said the two explosives were found early Tuesday morning at the Cathedral of Constantine and Helen, one of them in the confessional box, The Telegraph reported.

He also claimed that Christian families in the town had been required to pay a monthly protection tax.

“Yabroud is under the control of armed groups, and Christians are asked for protection money, yet in spite of this, there are these bombs being placed in the church,” the patriarch said.

He added that in the event of a rebel victory in the country’s civil war, life for Christians could get even harder because of the jihadist ideologies among many fighting against President Bashar Assad and his regime, the report said.

“The extremists are against even the normal rebel opposition,” he said, The Telegraph reported. “This is an issue for Muslims as well as Christians. I am not afraid from Islam, I am just afraid of chaos, which will allow these groups to play a very destructive role.”

“Some people are saying that we Christians are the friends of the regime, but we are not, we are just ordinary Syrians, and we pray for all,” he added. “Besides, even if we are for the regime, that is our right as free people.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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