Due to the announced withdrawal of U.S. troops, Christians in Syria are fearful. A few years ago, ISIS carried out a devastating, historic genocide in parts of both Syria and Iraq. With defiant enemies all around them, Syrians are worried about a new one.
U.S. absence in the region will leave religious and ethnic minorities like Kurds and Christians particularly vulnerable. The withdrawal of U.S. forces has incited a geopolitical power struggle between Turkey, Russia, Iran, and Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government in Syria. All parties desire control the soon-to-be available real estate after the U.S. departs. The co-chair of the Council of Democratic Syria, Amina Omer, informed CBN News, “The people in this area are very frightened by the decision of the American pullout because a lot of countries and militias are coveting the region east of the Euphrates to replace the American: Russia, the Assad regime, Iran and Turkey or the Nasra Front that have declared publicly that they will support Turkey on their attack of the east of the Euphrates.”
According to CBN News, Turkey is the primary concern. The co-president of the Syriac Union Party, Sanharib Baron, revealed, “After the threats of (Turkish President) Erdogan to this region that he wants to take the place of the great force of America, we felt danger because of this void. If it was filled by the countries of this region or another power, there would be danger in general for the people and especially the Christian people.”
Many inhabitants of northeast Syria fear Turkey as a result of what occurred last year in the northwest part of the country. In January of 2018, The Turkish army along with Islamic militias, referred to as the Free Syrian Army, embarked on a military campaign to capture the city of Afrin.
The Shai Fund’s Charmaine Hedding informed CBN News what Turkey’s objectives are. Hedding remarked, “We know it from the statements that they’ve made that they want to get rid of the people in this area and bring in other people from Syria. So, it’s a population displacement.”
To learn more about the Afrin takeover, Chris Mitchell, Middle East Bureau Chief at CBN News, visited the city of Kobane and an evangelical place of worship. Christians fled Afrin during the Turkish invasion. Some believers settled in Kobane to find safety, refuge, and somewhere to freely practice their faith. Zani pastors the evangelical church here. He fled Afrin along with his wife Chinar.
“Everything in the church has been stolen,” the pastor said. “This is the terrorists’ very nature of behavior. And they burned the church.”
Chinar’s cousin’s child was murdered by Islamic militants allied with Turkey. The minister’s wife said, “They were a group of people with weapons that entered our neighborhood and they were stealing. So, my cousin went out and asked them, ‘what are you doing?’ So, the men with weapons attacked my cousin’s house and shot and killed his son.”
Sadly, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatened to do what he did in Afrin to northeast Syria. Chinar remarked that she prayed after learning about President Donald J. Trump’s decision to remove U.S. forces from the region.
“Every day we cried and prayed to the Lord that we would not end up like Afrin,” she said. “We love the American President a lot. I have said that he is a believer and that he prays. And so I was surprised. Why did President Trump do this that he immediately wants to withdrawal the forces from here? Is it possible that he was not considering the church or that he doesn’t know that there are believers here?”
Currently, an estimated 100,000 Christians reside in northeast Syria. Most of them fear genocide. Since his initial announcement, Trump has slowed down his timetable to remove U.S. troops from the region. But, believers in Syria are hoping and praying for more.
Pray for Christians in Syria and all over the world who are facing the threat of immense persecution due to their faith.
~ 1776 Christian