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Syria: Christians appeal for prayer, fearful that Turkey plans to make good its numerous threats to invade

Christians in Iraq are already suffering at the hands of Turkish forces: now that the Islamic State (ISIS) has been rolled back, the Turkish government is continuing the persecution of Christians in Iraq by targeting Christian villages for airstrikes, and Christians in Syria are fearful that they will be the Erdogan regime’s next target. Clearly the Turkish government is using its military actions against the Kurds to further its longstanding persecution of Christians, which includes the occupation and ethnic cleansing of northern Cyprus; the ongoing discrimination against of and harassment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the remaining Christians of Turkey; the long imprisonment of Pastor Andrew Brunson and other Christian leaders; and much more. The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, once again appeals to the United Nations and all nations that are concerned about human rights to do all they can to protect the Christians of Syria and the Middle East in general, and to do all they can to bring an end to the unjust and illegal actions of the Turkish government.

“Christians in northeast Syria appeal for prayer for safety,” by Dale Gavlak, Catholic News Service, August 19, 2019:

AMMAN, Jordan — Groups representing Christians in northeast Syria are appealing for prayer, fearful that Turkey plans to make good its numerous threats to invade the region with its military forces.

Since November 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to launch a large military operation east of the Euphrates River to “clear Kurdish terrorists” from the area. Syriac Christians view it as a pretext to enter more of Syria in a bid to change the northeast’s demographic of Kurds and Christians, just as Turkey did in Afrin, Syria, in March 2018.

The Christians’ appeal was issued by the Syriac National Council of Syria, the Syriac Union Party, and the American Syriac Union. It was made available to Catholic News Service Aug. 15.

Turkey has “massed its army and allied jihadists along the border. Even though the U.S. and French armies are present in northeast Syria, we know that Turkey will attack and destroy us,” the three Syriac Christian groups said. They are appealing to U.S. leaders to intervene on their behalf to aid the 100,000 Christians in the region who they say are at risk.

They warned that Turkey and its jihadist allies, including fighters from al-Qaida and Islamic State, could carry out “a massacre just as they did in Afrin (northwest Syria) in 2018, when the churches of Afrin were burned and the Christians and Yazidis there were hunted down. In northeast Syria, it would be much worse and destroy many more people.”

“This is why we release an urgent call for prayer to all our brothers and sisters. We ask you to pray that the U.S. and France will make the decision to protect northeast Syria from a Turkish invasion,” the statement said.

Syriac Christian political leader Bassam Ishak referred to the 1915 Armenian Genocide, or “Sayfo,” in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks in 1915.

“The Syriacs and Christians of northeast Syria will never forget ‘Sayfo,’ and we don’t feel comfortable with Turkish military power and rule,” said Ishak, who heads the Syriac National Council. A graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, he is also a member of the political bureau of the Syrian Democratic Council.

Ishak and Syrian religious leaders like Chaldean Catholic Father Samir Kanoon of Qamishli said the region’s inhabitants view Turkey as an enemy of Christians due to past history.

“From the perspective of the Christians who live in northeast Syria, the old bully is following them into where they came to safety,” Ishak said….

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