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World News

Christians in danger as result of Turkish offensive

by Cara Bentley

This week, Turkish forces have attacked northern Syria, where many Kurdish people live, as well as Arabs, Syrians and Christians, with the president of Turkey saying it is to prevent a 'terror corridor' and create a 'safe zone'.

American troops were supporting Kurds in northern Syria until Presdent Trump withdrew them, something which is now being criticised for leaving Kurdish people and Christians in the region vulnerable to Turkish attack.

Evangelist Franklin Graham, a long-standing supporter of Donald Trump, wrote on social media that he was praying Trump would reconsider his move.

"The Kurds are the ones who have been leading the fight against ISIS in Syria. Also pray for the Christians who the Kurds have been protecting. They could be annihilated. Would you pray w/me that Pres. @realDonaldTrump will reconsider? Thousands of lives hang in the balance."

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham also criticised Mr Trump, saying: "Mr. President, your decision regarding Syria is having grave consequences to our national security and that of our allies and partners."

The Bishop of Truro, Rt Rev Philip Mountstephen, who wrote a report this year about the experience of Christians across the world, said: "the implications of recent events for FoRB in Syrian Kurdistan, Christian minorities included, could be very severe. Freedom of Religion or Belief is sacrosanct, not trade-able."

Rev Andrew Ashdown, a vicar who has travelled extensively in the region, told Premier Christians in the region were not completely free before this happened either, saying: "In the last few years, the Kurdish authorities have attacked and closed Christian schools and churches and sought to impose the Kurdish language and education on those.

"So the Kurds are not white as white, pure as snow and while people talk about the Kurdish area of Syria, yes, there are 30% Kurds but it's more complicated than that - it's part of Syria."

Fadi, a representative from the organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide, told Premier: "This decision came like a shock. It was a big surprise for everybody, not only for North East Syria but also the international community and political leaders.

"I think this is a very premature decision and this will lead to destabilising the already fragile situation in North East Syria and this may lead to another refugee crisis and the regrouping of ISIS and other terrorist groups functioning in the area.

"The Turkish invasion may mark the end, actually, of the Christian presence and North East Syria. There is a significant Christian minority in North East Syria and this may be the end for their existence there due to the Turkish invasion. We've seen what happened when the Turkish army invaded Afrin a few months ago - they turned it into a Taliban style area where hundreds of Kurdish Christians had to flee for safety."

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