🔴 Amid ongoing Turkish airstrikes, Christians in North and East Syria have gathered for Christmas services, but the streets remain eerily empty, fostering an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear.#Christmas | #Syria | #AirStrike
— MedyaNews (@1MedyaNews) December 25, 2023
The festive spirit in the North and East Syria has been marred by Turkish airstrikes on civilian settlements since Saturday. Christians in the Kurdish-administered areas celebrated Christmas this year against a backdrop of silence and fear, with streets remaining conspicuously empty.
Despite the ongoing attacks, the Christian community in areas such as Al-Hasakah (Hesekê), Qamishli (Qamişlo), Al-Malikiyah (Dêrik), Tell Tamer (Til Temir) and Al-Qahtaniyah (Tirbespiyê) gathered in churches on Sunday and Monday morning to mark the holiday with services.
The Co-Presidency of the Executive Council of the Democratic Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria (DAANES) officially declared Christmas Day a public holiday.
While DAANES has taken strong measures to protect religious minorities, an earlier report by Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) suggests potential irreversible damage to the Christian community in North and East Syria as memories of Islamic State (ISIS) rule linger.
Under ISIS, Christians in North and East Syria faced persecution, oppression and displacement, including discrimination, violence, mass executions, kidnappings and arrests. Many Christians have sought refuge elsewhere because of the atrocities committed by ISIS.
Ongoing Turkish airstrikes pose a new hurdle for Syria’s Christian community, which makes up eight percent of the population and includes a variety of denominations. Concerns are growing about the lasting impact on the already fragile Christian presence in the region.