Syria (MNN) — The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is urging President Trump to make Turkey stop airstrikes on or near Kurdish communities in northern Syria.
Pierre Houssney of Horizons International tells MNN two Christians were among those killed during this week’s attacks. “I just heard…that the first two casualties of the Turkish bombing were two Assyrian Christian guys,” Houssney says.
“Pictures came of their bodies and they had crosses tattooed on their forearms. A Muslim reporter, when she saw that picture… she said, ‘Christ is being crucified again’.”
Why is Turkey attacking Syrian Kurds?
On Wednesday, Turkey began an air and ground offensive in Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria. More about Turkey-Kurdish tensions here. The U.S. withdrew its troops from the area days earlier but discouraged Turkey from filling the void.
Now, “tens of thousands of civilians are on the move to escape the fighting and seek safety,” the UNHCR warned in yesterday’s press release.
“What we’re hearing from the ground through our Kurdish sources is that there [are] just random bombings that are happening…there are a lot of families fleeing and trying to go to safer areas, only to [be] bombed in those supposedly-safer areas,” Houssney says.
“There’s a lot of chaos and there’s a lot of people getting killed.”
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims he wants to turn Kurdish-controlled areas into “safe zones” for Syrian refugees. When the UN Security Council declared an “emergency meeting” to discuss Turkey’s actions, Erdogan threatened to send millions of Syrian refugees to Europe.
Houssney says a new threat is rising from the ruins left by Turkey’s airstrikes.
“The first targets of the Turkish bombing were prisons [which held] the ISIS members… the Kurds have been trying to deal with over 90,000 ISIS survivors between the ISIS fighters and their families – their wives and their many children,” he explains.
As the airstrikes destroyed Kurdish prisons, “the ISIS fighters entered villages nearby with knives and started massacring people.”
What happens to those who survive?
As UNHCR noted above, thousands of people are fleeing northern Syria. If Turkey doesn’t want refugees, where will they go?
Lebanon hosts the second-largest number of refugees in the region, but “many nonprofit organizations have reduced the amount of food portions they are offering because the resources are starting to run out,” Houssney says.
“That goes for our organization as well. We recently had to cut in half the amount of food portions monthly that we’ve been giving through churches and through our ministry centers.”
Lebanon has one of the highest public debts in the world. Last month, Lebanon declared a state of economic emergency. This summer, Lebanon’s government increased pressure on Syrian refugees to return home.
“To think of receiving yet another wave of refugees – it leaves us feeling quite powerless.”
How can you help?
The Lord remains in control. Ask Him to support groups like Horizons as they help refugees coming to Lebanon. Pray for an end to violence and brutal attacks in Syria. “Please do pray for the Kurdish believers that are on the run,” Houssney requests.
“[Pray] that God would really use them to spread the Gospel…so that they might see the light of Jesus through this whole crisis.”
Consider giving to help Horizons continue their work among Syrian Kurds. Houssney says their ministry among this people group is growing. Contact Horizons for details, and mention this article.
Header image is a representative photo depicting an F-16 Fighting Falcon of the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri). Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons.