A Turkish military patrol along the Syrian border when U.S.-backed Kurdish forces were fighting ISIS to the south. The Syrian Civil War (since 2011) and the battle against ISIS led to 3.5 million Syrians crossing the border into Turkey.
Green light means woe
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
The headline screamed off my screen: “Donald Trump gives Turkey the green light to invade northern Syria.” It was Monday’s (Oct. 7) The Economist e-newsletter. My heart sank.
Two days later, Turkey began a military offensive against our Syrian Kurdish allies. This offensive has the oxymoronic title of Operation Peace Spring.
The news out of Turkey this week has (once again) been painful to read. When the International Christian Concern (ICC) released a statement Thursday afternoon (Oct. 10), I felt moved by the Spirit to ask our Prayer Team to join us in prayer for the situation along Turkey’s southern border.
A Syrian refugee camp (called an “Accommodation Facility”) in southeastern Turkey in 2015.
We are scheduled to go in early December to a place not far from the Syrian border – a place we visited in 2015 when ISIS was zealously pursuing its caliphate and hundreds of thousands of Syrians were streaming out of their country. Our purpose is to spend five days pouring the Bible into new believers, Muslim background believers who came to the Lord around our Mission: Turkey. We are excited about this young body of Christ and where God may lead all of this.
Now we are praying against any obstacles, such as an authoritarian ruler who disguises attacking a people group (or people groups) as fighting “terrorism.” To wit, the news release from the ICC:
Turkey Hides Genocide Behind Invasion of Syria
Despite Turkish Promises, Christian Casualties Reported During Invasion
10/10/2019 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on October 9, 2019, Turkey began its Operation Peace Spring incursion into northern Syria. Significant damage and casualties were reported in Christian-dominated areas.
According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, 181 Syrian locations were shelled. A ground offensive began immediately following the artillery strikes. Today, President Erdogan announced that 109 so-called “terrorists” were killed during the beginning stages of the operation. However, initial field reports indicate a severe impact on civilians which included targeted attacks against Christian communities.
The operation began by shelling Tel Abyad, where the Armenian Christian community reported 16 families directly in the line of fire. Although the families had permanently resided there through the Syrian Civil War, the Turkish operation was deemed too dangerous for their continued presence. Immediate evacuation plans were established for the families, reportedly in coordination with the Armenian government. Two civilians were reportedly killed in Tel Abyad.
The city of Qamishli also reported heavy shelling by Turkish forces. The city is the largest in northeastern Syria and has a heavy Assyrian and Armenian Christian population. The Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights reported the targeted shelling of houses. Two Syriac Christians, a man and woman, were reportedly killed. Two children were also reportedly killed.
The Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights also reported that one civilian was killed in the village of Mobrouka and two in the village of Mishrafa. In the village of Ayn Issa, a name which translates into Jesus, Turkish shelling of the village was accompanied by social media posts of ISIS attacks in the area. Seven civilians were reportedly killed. ISIS had also launched significant attacks in Raqqa and Homs.
Turkey began its invasion of northern Syria after the sudden announcement by the White House on Sunday which approved of the operation. Many of the civilians residing in the geographical location of the invasion are descendants of those who escaped the 1915 genocide committed by Turkey.
The nation’s Directorate of Religious Affairs organized a 90,000 mosque wide recitation of morning Islamic prayers which encouraged Turkish soldiers to attack apostates and atheists throughout the invasion.
Matias Perttula, ICC’s Advocacy Director, said, “The current situation in northeastern Syria poses a major threat to the indigenous Christian communities in the region. It is imperative that the United States leads clear, effective, and decisive diplomatic efforts to restore stability in the region. Over 100 people have died in the fighting already, and more victims are expected. The removal of US troops has set in motion a series of events that will very likely bode poorly for Christians and religious minorities in the region.”
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Turkey has routinely made it clear that they do not recognize their actions a century ago as genocide and that they will continue these policies in any location where they gain a geographical foothold. Turkey is not attacking terrorists. They are ethnically and religiously cleansing the Middle East. The United States has given tacit approval for a massacre. It is time that we wake up to Turkish aggression and name it for what is: genocide.”
Please pray that the international community will respond in a way that will end the assault in northern Syria and the door will remain open for the spread of Christianity among a population that is more than 96 percent Muslim.
Climbing For Christ has served in Turkey, particularly among the unreached Kurdish people in the east and southeast, since 2010.