10 Feb 2013

Patriarch to visit Damascus

7:55 am on 10 February 2013

Lebanon's Maronite patriarch is to visit Damascus on Sunday for the enthronement of Syria's Greek Orthodox leader, in a show of support for the Christian minority community.

Patriarch Beshara Rai will attend the enthronement of Yuhanna X Yazigi.

The An-Nahar newspaper in Lebanon reported it will be the first visit by a Maronite patriarch since Syrian independence in 1943.

It said the trip is to "express solidarity between churches while Syria is in crisis, a crisis for Christians in Syria."

AAP reports Syria's Christian minority makes up about 5% of the population.

Many Christians have remained neutral in the conflict while others have taken President Bashar al-Assad's side for fear of the rise of Islamism.