Turks in ‘soft’ ethnic cleansing of Christians in northeastern Syria

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Turks in ‘soft’ ethnic cleansing of Christians in northeastern Syria

asianews.it

International activists and NGOs accuse the Ankara military and their allies. Local sources speak of "serious violations and war crimes", including summary executions and attacks. Militiamen expropriate Christian lands and collect crops. Ras al-Ayn Christians victims like the Kurds in Afrin.

The Turkish army and the pro-militias that support the offensive launched by Ankara against the Kurds in the northeastern of Syria have perpetrated a "soft" ethnic cleansing affecting members of other religious minorities including Christians.

International activists and NGOs report that the assurances provided by the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to US Vice President Mike Pence are in reality largely ignored on the ground.

Amnesty International report that the Turkish military and its Arab allies have shown "a shameful lack of respect for the lives of civilians". The activists base their claims on the testimony of rescuers, displaced persons and journalists, according to whom "serious violations and war crimes" have taken place including "summary executions and attacks" that "killed or wounded civilians".

Among those denouncing the abuses of the Turks and their allies is a Syrian Christian politician, responsible for the Syriac National Council. Interviewed by the Catholic News Service, Bassam Ishak speaks of intimidation and targeted attacks against Armenians and Syriac Christians, who are prevented from accessing the lands and their properties in the disputed territories of the north-east. A serious problem, explains, especially in this period of cotton harvesting, among the main sources of income.

According to Ishak, a member of the Syrian Democratic Council, the pro-Turkish militants would have the order "not to physically touch the Christians", but are free to expropriate lands and property. Syrian armed groups allied with Ankara "are repeating what has been done in the past to Afrin", when the Turks invaded the city of northwestern Syria in 2018 with the help of armed gangs and mercenaries.

"In Afrin - Ishak says – they took the crops of the Kurds who lived in the area and now they do the same with the Christians. Ras al-Ayn Christians own at least one third of agricultural land. These forces are conducting a sort of soft ethnic cleansing. Christians are frightened by these gangs, and end up losing their source of income ", so they ask "why should they stay and live under extremists".

Sun, 11/03/2019 - 16:12
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