Facing genocide in Syria
International | Turkish-linked forces are chasing Christians and Yazidis from their homes under the guise of fighting terrorists
by Mindy Belz
Posted 5/30/18, 03:07 pm
SYRIA: Over the weekend we received new eyewitness reports that Turkish forces who carried out a spring offensive in Afrin, a border enclave inside Syria, forced tens of thousands of Christians and Yazidis to flee. Members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which includes ex-ISIS militants, have taken over their homes and other areas. This is the latest example of “fighting terrorists” used as a cover for ethnic and religious cleansing.
Earlier I reported on the casualties from FSA fighting with Turkish forces in Afrin. The latest report says 3,000 Christians have fled. Two families with sick and wounded members remain in hiding. More than 35,000 Yazidis throughout the region have fled. All have had homes looted. One Christian woman reportedly was killed by FSA members. And the Church of the Good Shepherd in Afrin was burned and graffitied with names of militant groups that now claim it.
All of this has taken place in an area with American forces stationed nearby. U.S. President Donald Trump actually threatened to pull the troops from Syria during this offensive by Turkey, a NATO ally with whom we regularly share intelligence.
An important note: Whenever we see this in Syria, Iraq, or elsewhere, we will later see Muslims returned to their homes, while the Christians and Yazidis are not able to go back. This is genocide.
IRAQ: Making my point, here’s a great scene of life returning to Mosul, but of a pre-ISIS population of 30,000 Christians, not more than 10 are believed to live there now.
UNITED STATES: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “The United States will not stand by as a spectator,” as he released the annual international religious freedom report. “We will get in the ring and stand in solidarity with every individual who seeks to enjoy the most fundamental of human rights.” Pompeo plans to convene a ministerial-level meeting in Washington in late July to discuss.
BORDER: Nearly everyone who knows something about this thinks there are better ways to tighten the border than a policy separating parents from their children. Did I say just about everyone? The president, the attorney general, and the press have created a lot of confusion over this in the past few days, with journalists leading with a lot of murky anecdotes. There should be no question that people who approach the U.S. border to apply for legal admission should not be processed via family separation—while those who do should know they may face consequences. (Note: Entering the United States without following the law is a misdemeanor, a second try is a felony.)
More than two-thirds of white, evangelical Protestants believe the United States does not have a responsibility to accept refugees. And only 51 percent of Americans believe we do.
NORTH KOREA: All eyes on Kim Jong Chol, reportedly leader Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man, for clues about whether the U.S.-North Korea summit truly is on again. The intelligence chief arrived at the Beijing airport earlier Wednesday on his way to New York.
MALAYSIA: Malaysian Christians are hoping the new prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, will reignite the search for Raymond Koh, a popular pastor abducted more than a year ago.
IRELAND: Catholic leaders say the church is living in “a missionary time, a time for new evangelization,” after Ireland voted last week to legalize abortion—a vote representing “the culmination of a fundamental shift in Irish society—and one that has come about with stunning speed.”
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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.