TURKEY – As Turkey Invades Northeast Syria, Christians There Are on the Brink

National Review | Oct. 31, 2019


America, Russia, and the Syrian government are standing down. The Armenian genocide of last century turns out to be only the beginning.

After decades of stalling because of objections from Turkey, the U.S. House has recognized the genocide of the Armenian Christian population of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. In the resolution’s text, other Christian populations are referenced who were targeted in the genocide: Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, and Maronites. Each is a unique community with a unique history. Even as the ink is drying on the resolution, one of those communities, in northeast Syria, faces a familiar existential threat, again.

Despite an alleged ceasefire between the United States and Turkey and, separately, between Turkey and Russia, the Turkish onslaught in Syria continues.

Turkish-backed forces are moving into a string of villages, along the Khabur River, that provided refuge for Assyrian Christians who fled Turkey over a hundred years ago. Their descendants are at risk of disappearing. The Syriac Assyrian Military Council, made up of local Christians, has successfully defended the area from the latest incursion, but how long will that last without support from putative allies? Before 2011, the Assyrian population of the Khabur was spread over more than thirty villages stretching from just south of the city of Ras al-Ayn to Hasakah, the provincial capital. In the center of the villages, the population of Tel Tamr was mostly Kurdish and Arab but with a significant Assyrian minority.

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