A Kurdish militia in northern Syria has seized seven Christians and attempted to force them to enlist, said the World Council of Arameans (WCA), a non-governmental organisation of Christian Syriacs.
It said the People’s Protection Units (YPG) had released six of them – four Armenians and two Syriacs – after negotiations, but still held one Syriac man at a base for processing recruits near the town of Qamishli.
The YPG controls much of northern and northeastern Syria and, with U.S. backing, was the major force responsible for largely defeating Islamic State. It is now battling the remnants of the extreme jihadist group near the border with Iraq and fighting a Turkish incursion in the northwest.
Following the launch of Turkey’s offensive on the northeastern district of Afrin on Jan. 20, the YPG declared a mass mobilisation of civilians to fight against Turkish army, or help rescue efforts.
“Our people on the ground keep telling us about all sorts of human rights violations, including the confiscation of land, intimidations, threats, and a rising wave of kidnappings. This must immediately end. We demand that the Kurdish YPG forces respect Syria’s native Arameans,” WCA head Johny Messo said in a statement.
The WCA, which says it is an umbrella group of Syriac organisation in Europe and the United States, also shared a video of what it says shows the YPG confiscation of a house belonging to an Armenian Christian family in Qamishli.
“They are confiscating rather than protecting our homes in the Qamishli and Hasaka areas and they are even occupying entire villages in the Khabur region. They are treating us like second-class citizens,” WCA quoted a local man as saying.