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Archbishops watch Syrian developments with 'horror'

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster are uniting to pray for the conflict in Syria, and say they're watching the escalating violence there with 'horror and sorrow'.

Leader of worldwide Anglicans Justin Welby and leader of English and Welsh Catholics Vincent Nichols have released a joint statement calling for an end to the fighting.

They said:

"Since the very first days of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, we have prayed as we watched in horror and sorrow the escalating violence that has rent this country apart. 

"We have grieved with all Syrians - with the families of each and every human life lost and with all communities whose neighbourhoods and livelihoods have suffered from escalating and pervasive violence.

"We both continue to pray for a political solution to this tragic conflict that would stem the terrible violence and also empower all Syrians with their fundamental and inalienable freedoms.  "We also call for urgent humanitarian aid to reach all who are suffering. 

"We pray that Syria can recapture its tradition of tolerance, rooted in faith and respect for faiths living side by side."

The intervention from the church leaders comes as fears emerge over whether chemical weapons have been used in the conflict. The Times newspaper said it has footage after a chemical attack on a family home.

Reporter Anthony Loyd is on the Turkey Syria border and said:

"The boys died pretty quickly and the wife died shortly after. "The husband is very sick, he's foaming at the mouth, hallucinating, losing consciousness. "What's strange is the amount of other people who get affected as they rush to help."

The Prime Minister said there's growing evidence Syrian government troops have used chemical weapons. David Cameron saod it's limited, but agrees with the White House's warning that if it's true - the issue is a 'red line'. Last month while on a visit to Israel President Obama repeated his warning that if chemical weapons are used - he would take action.

He said:

"When you start seeing weapons that can cause potential devastation, you are looking potentially at even more horrific scenes than we've already seen in Syria. "The international community has to act on that additional information."

Simon Barrett is a Christian and a Middle East Analyst. He told Premier's Des Busteed on the News Hour President Obama needs to take action.

And there is still confusion over the whereabouts of two Syrian bishops who were kidnapped earlier this week.

Bishop Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church in Aleppo, and Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church were travelling near to the Turkish border when their car was set upon by gunmen. Their driver was killed. Despite some reports suggesting they'd been freed their dioceses still haven't heard from them. On Twitter Archbishop Justin Welby called for prayer for the bishops while Pope Francis also called for their release.

Revd Stuart Windsor is a Special Ambassador for anti-persecution Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Speaking to Premier he encouraged all believers to be praying for the situation in Syria.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Revd Michael Langrish, who's sitting in the House of Lords this week, has asked the Government what it's doing to document the use of sexual violence by those involved in the Syrian conflict.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, Baroness Warsi said:

"We are supporting the work of the UN and training to document human rights violations in Syria. 

"Through deployments of members of the UK team of experts on preventing sexual violence, we are training healthcare professionals in the effective documentation of cases, and we are leading the international community in asking for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court."

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