Germany’s Telepolis newspaper is carrying news about the Turkish operations into Northern Syria and its attacks against the Christian community living there. It reports that Turkey is trying to take advantage of the attention of international political forces and the world media being focussed on Afghanistan to intensify its attacks against Rojava and Northern Syria.
The newspaper points out that one of the places the attacks have been instensifying is the Khabour river valley and the small town of Tell Tamr, where Christians live, and shares some historical and cultural facts about the region. This region, and contemporary events, have a historical dimension. In 1933, Nestorian Christians came from Hakkari (Colemêrg) in Turkey and settled here.
Following the massacres of Armenians and other Christians by the Young Turks government from 1915-1918, the League of Nations in Geneva gave these Christians a settlement area in the Khabour river valley for their protection. Nestorians settled in 33 villages here, and Chaldeans settled in a further three.
By 2011 the region housed around 20,000 Assyrian Christians descended from people who had escaped the genocide, but today the population is significantly reduced. The Christians here are once again on edge due to the bombardments, and many have emigrated to Canada, Australia and the US.
After the liberation of Tell Tamr and the nearby Christian villages from ISIS in June 2015, Christian organisations succeeded in bringing some people back from exile, with their “return home” projects.
In October 2019 when the Turkish army attacked Ras al-Ayn (Serekaniye), it simultaneously entered 30 Christian villages in the area around Tell Tamr. Six churches were completely destroyed by Turkish drones, and others were seriously damaged.
Last week the power station in Tell Tamr was bombed in the Turkish attacks, and a 30-year-old woman in the village of Tell Shanan was injured.
The Assyrian Military Council tries to protect the area. Last Thursday, the Military Council’s communications centre in Tell Tamr was bombed by a Turkish drone. Sosin Birhat, a female Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander who had fought on a number of fronts against ISIS, and four other fighters were killed in the attack. These were units protecting Christians and other peoples in the region. Despite the presence of these units, the Turkish army is still applying pressure and continues its bombardments.
The Russian army, which plays the role of guarantor here according to the Sochi Agreement, has remained silent in the face of the attacks.