Christian fighters assigned to defend Assyrian communities in Syria
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish-led forces in Syria on Sunday assigned the Syriac Military Council to protect Syrian Christian populations in Khabour and villages around the town of Til Temir after Turkish-backed groups resumed attacks in the area last week.
The Syriac Military Council is part of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). According to a statement by the SDF’s General Command, the Christian fighters would “be deployed at all front lines in the area.”
After a massacre of Assyrians in Simele in northern Iraq in 1933, many Assyrians crossed the Tigris to French-controlled Syria, where they were settled along the Khabur River, author Sam Sweeney wrote for National Review.
“The approximately 15,000 Assyrians living along the Khabur River before 2011 were one of the largest remaining concentrations of Assyrians in the world,” Sweeney wrote.
In February 2015, 250 Christians were kidnapped after the so-called Islamic State took over the area. However, after three months, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the leading component of the SDF, and the Syriac Military Council pushed the terror group out.
By 2019, only about 700 or 800 people remained scattered throughout the villages. Now, Turkish-backed extremist groups threaten to displace them again.
“Many Christians fled the region already in 2015 when ISIS attacked the region. This attack by Turkey threatens the existence of the remaining Christians,” Thomas Schmidinger, a political scientist at the University of Vienna, told Kurdistan 24.
Last week, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly decided to recognize the Armenian genocide of 1915. SDF leaders now warn that Turkish plans might displace Christians again.
“It is hypocrisy at its finest to recognize a 100-year-old genocide and to do almost nothing to prevent an ongoing one,” Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF press office, tweeted on Thursday.
The Armenian government acted quickly to move the small Armenian population in the town of Tal Abyad to Aleppo, just before Turkish-backed forces took over the area, Armenpress reported.
Meanwhile, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) director Rami Abdulrahman confirmed to Kurdistan 24 that one of the Turkish-backed groups, the Levant Front, “took control of the houses of Armenians [in Tal Abyad].”
Luqman Ahmi, a spokesperson for the Kurdish-led self-administration for northeast Syria, told Kurdistan 24 that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to carry out the “massacres that Turkey committed against Armenians, Syriacs, Assyrians, and Kurds a hundred years ago, again.”
“Erdogan wants to repeat the same ethnic cleansing in our region, and prosecute the people who survived those crimes,” Ahmi said.
“Turkey wants to annihilate the Kurdish people similar to the atrocities that Turkey carried out against Armenians and Assyrians.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany