The Catholic newspaper The Tablet published an article on 28 October on the suffering of the Christian community and the demographic changes in Northen Syria due to Turkey’s policies in the region.
“There appears to be no end in sight for the suffering of Christians in North Syria, as Turkey and its allies in the region continue military escalation and bombardment, pushing remaining Christians to flee and preventing others from returning to their homes and properties,” says the article, adding that before the civil war in Syria there were more than 130,000 Christians residing in North Syria but that that number has been dramatically reduced to no more than a few thousand people today.
“Some villages are controlled by Turkish-backed extremist groups, such as Jaysh al-Islam and the Hamza Division of the Syrian National Army militia, and Division 20. They have all become devoid of Christian presence. ”
The Tablet also interviewed Nadine Maenza, chair of the United States Committee for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Maenza stated that not only is Turkey trying to change the demography of the region but it is also a threat for the democratic autonomy established by the Kurds and other groups there.
“The Turkish occupation of territory across northern Syria remains a serious threat — not only to the vulnerable religious minorities of that area, but also to the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria itself. USCIRF has praised AANES for fostering positive religious freedom conditions that allow Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, and others to openly practice their religions and even change religious identities.”
“Turkey and allied, or Turkish-backed, groups have specifically targeted Christians and Kurds to change the demographics of northern Syria,” Maenza added.
The Tablet’s article also recalled the following statements by Sanharib Barsoum, president of the Syriac Union Party.
“We know Turkey’s policy of demographic change. It has already been done before in Afrin and other cities … Now it is being implemented in Tal Abyad [Gire Spi] and Ras al-Ain [Serekaniye] through [Turkey’s] proxy groups. This is Erdogan’s policy of demographic change and Turkification of these areas as part of his larger project for the complete occupation of northern Syria.”