On February 12, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Pope Francis held a historic meeting on Cuba, where the leaders of the two Christian churches discussed a number of issues, including the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
"Only 10 percent of the pre-war Christian population of Aleppo is left. Those who have stayed are literally awaiting for their deaths. Hour by hour they are shelled with bombs and missiles. These bombs target Christian districts of the city. Along with the bishop of Aleppo we traveled through these districts and saw their plight," Mother Agnes Mariam Salib said at a press conference organized by the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency.
Since 2011, Syria has been mired in a civil war with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad fighting several opposition factions and extremist groups, including Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh), which is outlawed in Russia and the United States, among a host of other countries.
On September 30, Russia began an anti-terrorism aerial campaign in Syria upon Assad's request. A US-led international coalition of over 60 nations has been bombing IS targets in Syria since 2014, without Damascus' approval.