Original Article by CBN news, November 11th, 2019
JERUSALEM, Israel – As Turkey continues its operation to drive Kurdish-led forces out of northeast Syria, more than 100,000 people have fled for their lives.
A report from the Rojava Information Center (RIC) says the invasion is a replay of Ankara’s assault on Afrin, Syria in 2018, during which Turkish forces committed human rights violations and displaced thousands of people.
Turkey vowed to halt is military advance into northeast Syria after striking a deal with the US and Russia. However, sources on the ground tell CBN News that Turkey and its jihadist proxies continue to attack Kurdish positions despite claims of a ceasefire.
The RIC report draws parallels between last year’s assault on Afrin and this year’s invasion into northeast Syria.
“Prior to occupation, Afrin was part of the democratic system of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, and enjoyed a relatively high level of stability, economic prosperity and gender equality. Since the area has been taken over by Turkish backed forces – many of which subscribe to jihadist ideology – the people of the region are experiencing forced displacement, demographic engineering, human rights violations and widespread violence,” the report says.
RIC says the northeast Syrian regions of Sere Kaniye and Tel Abyad, which fell under Turkey’s control last month, are doomed to the same future as Afrin.
“Many of the factions supported by Turkey subscribe to jihadist ideology, with a high presence of groups who have been aligned with ISIS and al Nusra. In addition to the impact of this ideology on the lives of Afrin residents, this presents a serious security concern for the region and globally,” the report says.
Reuters reports eight people were killed in Tel Abyad on Sunday during a car bomb attack. No terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack but Turkey blames the explosion on the Kurds, which Ankara regards as terrorists.
However, the RIC report suggests more terror attacks are bound to happen in Turkish-controlled areas.
“Because many of the same factions are present in Afrin as in the Turkish-occupied zone of Tel Abyad and Sere Kaniye and 32km south, similar security concerns are likely to present themselves,” the report says.
The situation is especially dangerous for Christians.
When Turkey invaded Afrin last year, most Christians fled and Ankara’s jihadist proxies attacked local churches.
“The few remaining try to pretend to be Muslims and live in permanent fear of being discovered. Converts to Christianity are at particularly high risk of violence from Islamist groups,” the RIC report says.
Christians in Tel Abyad have already seen their own churches attacked by Turkish-backed forces.
Jenan Moussa from Arabic Al-Aan TV reports that Turkey’s jihadist proxies attacked an Armenian church in Tel Abyad on or around October 31.
2/ Acc to eyewitnesses:— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) November 10, 2019
Armed members of Syrian rebel groups entered Armenian church in Tel Abyad on or around 31 Oct 2019.
They smashed &broke (Maria) statue. Other religious objects (pictures, candles etc) thrown on floor. Wooden church seats turned over.
Here more pics: pic.twitter.com/dclZlbU8Yn
Eyewitnesses told Moussa that members of Syrian rebel groups, who are backed by Turkey, “claimed that the presence of a church in their areas is sinful.”
“Witnesses say the vandals belonged to Syrian group al-Jabha al-Shamiya or Faylaq al-Majd.” Moussa reported.
That same Armenian church was also vandalized by ISIS when the terror group controlled the town in 2014-2015.
The RIC report says women and children in Afrin were reportedly subjected to violence and rape by Turkish-backed forces. US lawmakers and independent agencies have also accused Turkish-forces of committing or allowing human rights violations to take place in northeast Syria.
Just days after Turkey invaded the country video surfaced online of the body of Kurdish politician Kevrin Khalaf, who was murdered by armed men who ambushed her car.
Kurdish leaders say Khalaf’s murder was committed by a Turkish proxy group.
Human rights activists and Kurdish leaders hope US President Donald Trump will act on these reports of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses during his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington on Wednesday.
Before Turkey invaded, Trump ordered the complete withdrawal of US troops from northeast Syria. He has since reversed his decision and is allowing a small force of American soldiers to stay in the area to ward off a resurgence of ISIS.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking on the ABC News program “This Week,” said the number of troops that would remain was “in the 500-ish frame. Maybe 600.”
He added that “there are still ISIS fighters in the region and unless pressure is maintained . . . there’s a very real possibility that conditions could be set for a reemergence of ISIS.”