SNHR report presented a list of 124 attacks on Christian “places of worship” since March of 2011.
Seventy-five of the attacks—60 percent—came from pro-Assad forces against 48 separate Christian sites. Those forces included the Syrian army, security forces, local militias, and Shiite foreign militias.
Thirty-three of the attacks were reportedly conducted against 21 houses of worship by factions of the armed opposition; 12 attacks were conducted by extremist Islamist groups including ISIS and Hay-at Tahrir al Sham.
The Aleppo governorate saw the highest number of attacks on Christian churches, according to the report, followed by the Homs governorate and then the Damascus suburbs.
The Syrian regime forces were responsible for the highest number of attacks in the Homs governorate, with 27 incidences, and a further 20 incidents in the Damascus suburbs. Opposition forces were responsible for 24 incidents in the Aleppo governorate, according to the report.
The targeting of churches in Syria falls within the “wider context” of military forces “targeting the vital centers” of opponents, Ghany told reporters on Monday. Those targets also include other civilian institutions, including hospitals and schools.
Bishop Nicholas James Samra of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton told CNA that “the situation is very convoluted” in Syria and urged caution in interpreting the report's findings.
Samra said that many Christians in the region still see Assad as the best prospect for their their own security.
“The big fear of the Christians—the majority—is if he [Assad] goes, who will come in? And that is the big, big fear”
While both sides targeted Christian churches, the Assad regime attacked these sites more effectively with better weapons, the report claimed.
According to evidence taken from several of the attacks—shrapnel, photo analysis, determination of which forces were controlling the area at the time of the attack—the regime was found to have attacked more churches despite a greater capacity to target specific facilities, and a lesser chance of accidentally hitting a church while shelling a neighborhood.
The regime also systematically justified attacks on churches by publicly saying they had become operation centers for opposition forces, Erica Hanichak of Americans for a Free Syria told reporters on Monday.
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Speaking to CNA, Smara said that in his own travles to the country and contact with local Christians led him to doubt the report's conclusions.
“I doubt very much if the regime of the Assad regime is responsible for the bombing of any churches and religious sites,” he said.
“I don’t believe the president is that radical”
The report said that some churches suffered multiple attacks; the Church of the Lady of Peace in Homs was attacked seven times by Syrian government forces, and the Church of Saint Takla in the Damascus Suburbs was attacked four times.
The armed opposition attacked the Roman Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross in Damascus four times, as well as churches in Aleppo during fighting with the regime forces there in 2012 and 2013.
Some churches were attacked several times by multiple entities; the Armenian Church of Independence in Raqqa was attacked three times, twice by ISIS and once by Syrian regime forces. The Church of St. Samaan in the Aleppo suburbs was attacked once by Syrian regime forces, once by the al Nusra Front, and once by factions of the armed opposition.