Christians are facing an existential threat from Turkish-backed forces
by Andrew Halloway
“The Turkish military offensive into northeast Syria has wreaked havoc on the lives of Syrian civilians who once again have been forced to flee their homes and are living in constant fear of indiscriminate bombardment, abductions and summary killings.
“Turkish military forces and their allies have displayed an utterly callous disregard for civilian lives, launching unlawful deadly attacks in residential areas that have killed and injured civilians,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
Christians in north-east Syria, under threat from Turkey’s invasion, believe Turkey’s oppression of its Kurdish population is an attempt to finish what it started when it massacred the country’s Armenian Christians in World War 1 – only officially recognised as genocide by the USA this October.
These Christians belong to the Assyrian Church of the East
Turkish-backed forces began attacking Christian-inhabited villages along the Khabur River in October. These Christians belong to the Assyrian Church of the East – descendants of the Christians of the Persian empire, dating back to the earliest centuries of the Church.
The Christian community still uses Aramaic/Syriac as their liturgical language, and their dialect of Jesus’s native tongue is still spoken in the Khabur villages. But by the time this edition of HEART goes to press, these villages may have been emptied.
The southwest side of the Khabur River was in Isis hands for about three months before they were forced out by the Kurdish YPG and local Christian factions. The YPG and the Christian groups eventually formed the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by American airpower, but many Khabur residents had fled during the fighting, and the Turkish invasion may finally force out the rest. American troops were preventing that until they pulled out.
Dalton Thomas, a Christian aid worker and founder of Frontier Alliance International, said, “We’re seeing innocent life snuffed out by a genocidal, jihadist regime that right now bears legitimacy because they’re part of NATO… Turkey is the true Islamic State.”
He claims, “It is Turkey’s open intention to restore the original caliphate which was disbanded in 1924. My prayer would be that the international community would wake up to what’s actually happening.”
Thomas also claims that former Isis leader Al Baghdadi’s safe house was in a Turkish protected area; he and several others believe Turkey shielded him.
Recently, Turkey’s Defence Minister revealed a future map of Turkey with annexations of parts of Syria, Iraq and even Greece.
Before the invasion, President Erdogan spoke of establishing a new, multi-billion dollar residential zone to house the Syrian refugees currently in Turkey, on land that is currently in Kurdish hands.
Petition to sanction Turkey and protect Kurds
A petition is calling on Western governments to impose sanctions on Turkey. It expresses solidarity with the Kurdish people, stating:
“We strongly condemn the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warn against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies.
“We express our horror at the deaths of at least 60 civilians, including 20 children, and the displacement of up to 275,000 people, including 70,000 children, from their homes…
“We call on all countries to provide humanitarian assistance to the Kurdish people, and freeze arms sales to Turkey, and for the international community to enforce a no-fly zone and bring diplomatic and economic pressure on Turkey to halt its offensive.”
Israel has issued a statement condemning the Turkish invasion and offering “humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people”.
The petition can be signed at: www.webelieveinisrael.org.uk/kurdish_solidarity
NATO member Turkey is targeting the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias. Thus one NATO member is in conflict with forces supported by another NATO member.
The SDF is dominated by the Kurdish YPG, the People’s Protection Unit, the military wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
However, the Turkish government insists the YPG is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey since 1984 and is designated as a terrorist group by the US and EU.
The YPG and PKK share a similar ideology, but are separate entities.