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Syria: Turkish planes destroy a Christian village

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has taken official notice of this Turkish military activity that threatens Christian villages in Iraq and Syria, and has condemned it. We continue to hope that this will contribute to an end to these strikes, or at very least a change in the way in which the Turkish government undertakes these rocket strikes, so that Christians and other civilians are no longer targeted.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Syria, see here.

“Turkish planes destroy a Christian village in Al-Hasakah Governorate,” AsiaNews, August 31, 2021:

Al-Hasakah (AsiaNews) – The Turkish air force last night bombed positions held by the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), destroying an Assyrian Christian village in north-eastern Syria. The PKK is outlawed in Turkey.

Turkish planes struck Tell Tawil, also known as Bnay Roumta, a village not far from Tel Tamer, Al-Hasakah Governorate.

Local sources confirm that the area has been the target of Turkish air strikes and attacks as part of the war unleashed by Turkish President Recep Erdoğan against the Kurds in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, regardless of the consequences for the local civilian population.

The attacks have damaged the property of local Assyrian Christians who have struggled to stay, stronger than violence and deprivation.

According to witness accounts and pictures posted on social media, the air strikes caused serious damage to homes (pictured) and many are now uninhabitable, but no one in the civilian population was killed or wounded as residents managed to escape shortly before the attack.

In recent weeks, Turkish planes have hit other Christian towns – Qamishli, Tal Gerebet and Ain Issa – in the Assyrian Christian region along the banks of the Khabur River….

Speaking to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), Elias Antar Elias, leader of the Assyrian People’s Assembly in the Jazira region, said that “The recent attacks on our villages brought back” the memory of the 1915 offensive by the Ottoman Empire and the expulsion from Hakkari towards Urmia, then in Iraq, finally in Syria where they are now. “History,” he said, “is repeating itself”.

Describing Turkish action as “barbarism”, the Assyrian Christian leader bemoans “the destruction [. . .] inflicted on the Syrian cities from Afrin to Jarablus and all the occupied areas” and sees “no difference between those who attack us now and ISIS”, the Islamic State group, who attacked in 2015.

Finally, he hopes to see renewed unity “with our military forces” to defend the region “because this land is ours, and we are ready to [. . .] fight any aggression that affects us”.

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