Civilian toll mounts in Syria
International | Turkish-backed forces kill medics, destroy ambulances
by Mindy Belz
Posted 10/17/19, 10:56 am
SYRIA: Reliable sources inside the country report four ambulances destroyed and five medics killed—shot execution-style by the side of the road—while attempting to evacuate wounded near Ras al-Ain (or in Kurdish, Sere Kaniye). Faith-based aid workers are on the ground assessing the situation and relayed a call by the self-administration zone in northeast Syria to “open a humanitarian corridor” for civilians trapped inside Ras al-Ain.
- In nearby Tel Tamer (a city where I ate kebab in February after interviewing Assyrian Christian residents returning after they were displaced by ISIS), sources report 78 killed and 300 wounded from fighting in the area. According to UNICEF, 70,000 children are among the more than 190,000 Syrians displaced since fighting recommenced last week.
- Turkish-trained and funded Syrian National Army fighters are providing the bulk of forward forces who are committing war crimes—shooting civilians and targeting non-Muslims. The Rojava Information Center has identified at least 40 ISIS fighters among them.
TURKEY: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Turkey on Thursday seeking a cease-fire in Syria—as President Donald Trump received a stinging rebuke from House Republicans, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday dismissed U.S. calls for an immediate cease-fire.
- The House passed a resolution, 354-60, opposing the president’s decision to withdraw from northeast Syria and calling on Turkey to cease its offensive. Republicans voted 2-1 in favor of the resolution, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other key leaders.
- Trump sent a letter to Erdogan asking for a “good deal.”
- The autopsy report of a Kurdish politician shows she was beaten, dragged by the hair, and repeatedly shot. Hevrin Khalaf, 35, had championed rights for Christians in the region.
- U.S. jets destroyed one of the coalition’s own military bases in northern Syria as it withdrew.
ALGERIA: Authorities closed two of the country’s largest churches, despite worshippers filling the 500-member Protestant church in Makouda in protest.
Seven of Algeria’s 60 Protestant-affiliated churches have been closed under a newly enforced 2006 law forbidding non-Muslim worship outside designated buildings. No church has received formal designation since passage of the law.
JAPAN: Scenes from Typhoon Hagibis show devastating flooding from the weekend storm, which also swept away decontamination bags from the Fukushima nuclear plant—still recovering from a 2011 tsunami—with potential nuclear debris.
CENTRAL AMERICA: The United States is resuming $143 million in targeted foreign assistance for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras after the three countries signed immigration deals allowing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to send asylum-seekers from the border back to Central America. In April, the Trump administration froze $450 million in U.S. foreign aid over the countries’ failure to stem the outflow of northbound migrants.
IRAN: One of five women converts arrested for Christian activity has left a video message before beginning her one-year jail sentence.
KENYA: Here’s how Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke the under-2-hour marathon record in Vienna.
I’M SPEAKING in Atlanta at a fall lecture series hosted by Reformed Theological Seminary.
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Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.