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Patriarch warns Syrians of reliving Lebanon's errors

Last modified: 10 Feb 2013 23:00

The head of Lebanon's Maronite Church evoked his country's long civil war to condemn the futility of conflict, on the second day of a visit to Syria's war-ravaged capital Damascus.

At a Sunday mass broadcast live on Syrian state television, Patriarch Beshara al-Rai appeared to dismiss the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's 13-year rule as not worth the bloodshed.

"Everything that is said and demanded in the name of what is called reform and human rights and democracy is not worth the spilt blood of an innocent person," said the 72-year-old patriarch.

Rai is on the first visit to Syria by a Maronite patriarch since the official independence of Lebanon in 1943. At a celebration in a Damascus church to mark the inauguration of a Syrian Orthodox patriarch, Rai did not refer to Assad directly but likened the 22-month uprising to the 1975-1990 civil war that tore apart neighbouring Lebanon.

"We come during a difficult time while dear Syria is in pain. We lived in Lebanon this deep wound as a result of futile wars," Rai told the mass.

[Reuters]