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January 06, 2014 AT 8:44 AM
A small congregation of Armenian Orthodox Christians prayed for peace at a Christmas service in Old Damascus on Monday and reflected on the hardships of living in an uneasy middle ground in Syria's increasingly sectarian conflict. They lamented a low turnout compared to previous years - many have fled Syria and others were unable to get through a maze of checkpoints and traffic bottlenecks to reach the church of St. Sarkis for Armenian Christmas, celebrated on January 6. "You used to see this entire church courtyard full, but it's been fewer and fewer people every season," said one of the community organizers who, like all those interviewed, asked to remain anonymous due to sensitivities.