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Turkey escalating airstrikes against Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq

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

“Turkey escalating airstrikes against Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq,” Barnabas Fund, October 12, 2021:

Turkey has escalated a supposedly anti-terrorist military campaign in Syria and Iraq which appears to be targeting Christians and other minorities.

A spate of Turkish attacks beginning in late August 2021 – including the bombing of a hospital – has been responsible for the deaths of at least a dozen civilians.

“It is unclear,” argued an analyst in The Jerusalem Post, “why [Turkey’s] claims to fight ‘terrorism’ often coincide with bombing minorities in Iraq and Syria and carrying out attacks against Christian, Kurdish and Yazidi minorities.”

Amy Austin Holmes, a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC, notes that “Yazidis, Christians and Kurds have fled in droves from the Turkish-occupied areas of Syria”.

Dr Holmes explained that Turkey’s military campaign has continued in Syria despite the signing of a US-brokered ceasefire agreement in October 2019.

Indeed, she added, in the first year after Turkey signed the agreement, “the Assyrian Christian region of Tel Tamer was targeted every single month”….

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is increasingly open about his ambitions to spread Turkish Islamic influence, as if to re-establish the Ottoman Empire. In summer 2020 Erdoğan ordered two historic buildings in Istanbul – Hagia Sophia and The Church of the Holy Saviour – originally Christian churches, then mosques, and latterly museums, to be turned back into mosques.

In a speech given at Hagia Sophia in July 2020 Erdoğan declared that “the conquest of Istanbul and the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque are among the most glorious chapters in Turkish history”, adding, in the words of a twentieth century Turkish poet, “This will be Hagia Sophia, this will be a second conquest, the new resurrection. This is definite. These days are close. Maybe tomorrow, maybe sooner than tomorrow.”

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