A Christian civilization nearly two millennia old, Syria currently houses over 2.2 million Christians. For nearly 2,000 years Syrian Christianity has flourished richly and widely; denominations include the Greek and Syriac Orthodox Churches, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Roman, Armenian, Syrian, and Chaldean Catholic Churches, and the Assyrian (Nestorian) Church, all of which have peacefully coexisted historically with Alawite, Sunni, Druze, and Shiite Muslim populations.
In the words of a writer from The Economist in December 2016:
“Just like Iraq, Syria hosts an array of Christian confessions, distinguished by the positions their forebears took in church councils of up to 15 centuries ago. Some are in communion with Rome, others with Greek and Russian Orthodoxy, still others have subtle doctrinal differences with all the above but keep friendly terms with their co-religionists elsewhere. Whatever they believe, virtually all have accepted Russia's renewed claim, originally dating from the 19th century, to be the protector of Christians in the region. "Russia has given hope to the people of Syria," according to Patriarch Ignatios Ephrem II, leader of the Syrian Orthodox church.
With this history, is it any wonder that nearly the totality of Syrian Christians have sided with Assad and the Russian government who have protected their families, homes, and livelihoods? At the mercy of rebels who have joined ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the al-Qaida-connected al-Nusra Front, Syrian Christians have pleaded for leaders around the world to acknowledge their sovereignty and the preservation of their homeland, by far best assured under President Assad.
In international interviews, Syrian Christians have stated the following about the rebels:
"We are afraid that these people will try to destroy our peaceful life. . . but we trust the army and security and state”
“We used to live in peace, Muslims and Christians. Of course, we’re afraid people from outside the city and the country may come and destroy this unity. Assad became more than just the head of state. He is a kind of international symbol of this fight for our life.”
“There were people here; they wanted to push us against the government, the president, the army. If you hear the army enter the city and kill people, believe me this is a mistake, the army is here to protect people. God bless Assad; he did a lot to protect this state and make it strong.”
“Our country before the crisis was developing. Now we’re all losing. Jesus said any kingdom that splits will die fast. These people are receiving money and listening to the orders. They want to ruin this country.”