SYRIA – Christians face new threat in Syria

The Catholic Register | Michael Swan | Oct. 26, 2019

For Christians in Syria and Iraq, Turkey’s invasion into Syria could be the tipping point to drive them out and hasten the end of Middle-East Christianity, fears Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Canada Bawai Soro.

“The fear, the lack of stability, is a violence that goes through the inner conscience of people,” he said. “Even if there are areas of stability, the heart and the mind and the soul are really bothered with what is going on. 

“You will see how many people will be leaving, or those who wanted to leave — they will make sure they will leave.”

Following an Oct. 9 attack by Turkey on northeast Syria, more than 160,000 people, mainly Kurds but also Christians and Yazidis, have fled, according to the relief agency of the United Nations. With many humanitarian organizations also running for cover, aid for those on the run has been limited.

The attacks came three days after a widely denounced decision by U. S. President Donald Trump to withdraw American troops, which had been aligned with Kurdish forces in the region against the Islamic State. The Kurds and their YPG (People’s Protection Unit) fighters had assured Christians they could safely remain in their towns and villages. 

But the sudden withdrawal of American troops left not just the Kurds but also Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic communities exposed.

Turkey intends to ethnically cleanse a 30-kilometre strip along Syria’s northern border and populate it with two million  Syrian Muslim refugees who have poured into Turkey since 2014. But Soro believes Turkish aggression is about more than refugee resettlement.