The recent destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin in the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria confirms that Daesh (IS) is continuing its programme of systematic cultural vandalism. The Islamic extremist group has said it considers statues and shrines idolatrous – many churches, monasteries and precious artefacts have been damaged and destroyed.

ISIS is not only destroying the country’s history but also attacking its future. For the faithful surviving in the midst of a civil war are facing unimaginable horrors on an almost daily basis.

Just this week, we received a powerful and moving letter from Archbishop Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, who has witnessed the continued suffering of the people of Syria. He says:

“Part of the war in Syria is to live under indiscriminate bombing, a kind of Russian roulette which is always unpredictable. This Sunday, August 23, 2015 a rain of mortars fell on the neighbourhood including two shells on the roof of the church. Since the church vaults are constructed of stone, it held despite the damage: huge cracks, water tanks and fuel tanks ripped open, air conditioning out of service. The nearby Latin Church and several families in the neighbourhood were also affected. Nine people were killed and 47 innocent and poor people were wounded. These are people who have not able to leave the country and escape the fighting.

Of those who died survivors say: “You won’t have to see and live this cruel tragedy without end. You won’t see your children, your friends and your neighbours suffer and die in the blind violence and fanatical killing unable to save them or help them without understanding why.” The survivors buried the dead but have been able to treat the wounded since they lack means and competence. They sink into silent prayer before the relics of martyrs, the seeds of Faith.”

With your support and generosity Aid to the Church in Need is committed to continue to provide aid to those people who are determined to remain in Syria. Please remember them in your prayers.