KOBANE, Northeast Syria – With the pullout of US troops, Christians here in northeast Syria told CBN News their future hangs in the balance. With the region on the brink of chaos, they’re fearful and warning of a new genocide.
Just a few years ago, ISIS left a scar on the land in the form of an historic genocide in parts of Iraq and Syria. Now Christians fear another potential apocalypse with enemies all around them.
Turkey is the main concern.
“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,” said Sanharib Barson, co-president of the Syriac Union Party.
The reason many people in northeast Syria are afraid of Turkey is because of what happened last year in northwest Syria, the Turkish invasion of Afrin.
In January 2018, its army along with Islamic militias called the Free Syrian Army began a military campaign to capture the city of Afrin.
Charmaine Hedding of the Shai Fund told CBN News what Turkey’s goals are.
“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,” Hedding said.
To find out more about the Afrin campaign CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell traveled here to the city of Kobane and an evangelical church. Last year, Christians fled Afrin during the Turkish operation to take over the city.
Some came to Kobane to find refuge, security and a place to worship.
Zani is the pastor of the evangelical church. He and his wife Chinar fled Afrin.
“Everything in the church has been stolen. This is the terrorists’ very nature of behavior. And they burned the church,” said Zani.
Islamic soldiers allied with Turkey killed Chinar’s cousin’s child.
“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,” she said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened a similar campaign into northeast Syria. When Chinar heard about President Donald Trump’s decision, she prayed.
“Every day we cried and prayed to the Lord that we would not end up like Afrin,” she explained.
President Trump’s decision surprised them.
“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?” China said.
In all, there are about 100,000 Christians in northeast Syria, most fearful of genocide.
President Trump slowed down his timetable to pull out us troops but for Christians here, they’re hoping and praying for much more than that.