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Edmontonians gather to pray for Syria, raise money for earthquake relief

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Dozens of people came together at a west Edmonton church Tuesday night to show support for the people of Syria.

A 7.8 magnitude quake rocked the war-torn country and neighbouring Turkiye Monday killing at least 6,200.

Syria has been divided by a civil war since 2011, killing at least 500,000 people and causing millions to flee.

One of those people is Mariane Khoury, who came to the Edmonton area in 2016 as a refugee.

"What goes through my mind is: not again. It's another thing that they have to go through. More lives that have to be lost and they're losing everything all over again," Khoury told CTV News Edmonton.

She is from Aleppo, one of the areas hardest hit by the quake, and still has aunts and a grandpa in Syria.

Early estimates suggest at least 1,600 people in the country were killed and 3,600 were injured.

"My family survived, but some of our friends haven't and some people that we know have unfortunately passed away. I feel very sad. I feel angry because we're so far away and there's not much we can do from a distance," Khoury said.

"A lot of houses are damaged. They had to rush out of their homes because, obviously, of the earthquake. They've lost a lot, so I think they're far from OK, unfortunately."

Ottawa will contribute at least $10 million to earthquake relief efforts in Turkiye and Syria as part of an initial aid package, International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said Tuesday.

"We are conducting the needs assessment to look at what would be the next steps," Sajjan said, adding that "nothing is off the table."

The people who gathered Tuesday said they tried to set up a GoFundMe to help Syria, but the website denied the effort due to sanctions because of the war. They called on the international community to drop the restrictions.

In the meantime, donations were being accepted by the Syrian/Lebanese congregation at St. Nicolas Church StNicholasEtransfer@gmail.com.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Matt Woodman and The Associated Press 

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