Syrian priest commits suicide at Greek Orthodox cathedral
65-year-old George Rafiq Housh was found "sitting on a chair... with a gunshot wound to the chest with a pistol lying on the ground next to him" at the St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the Syrian regime's interior minister said according to the SANA news agency.
Handwritten notes in Housh's possession showed his intent to commit suicide, the interior ministry said.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Lattakia said in a statement released Wednesday that the priest had taken his own life due to "accumulated psychological, material and social pressures”.
“We ask all our faithful children to approach this painful incident in a spirit of prayer until all legal procedures are completed and the burial is completed,” the Archdiocese added.
The ongoing conflict in Syria - which began in 2011 as President Bashar Al-Assad's regime violently cracked down on pro-democracy protesters - has caused significant physical, mental and financial stresses among Syrians.
Over 500,000 people have been killed - mostly at the hands of the Syrian regime and its ally Russia.
More than five million Syrians have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries and an additional six million Syrian civilians have been internally displaced.
Christians make up an estimated 10% of Syria's population. The Greek Orthodox Church is the biggest Christian denomination in the country.