Christian parties denounce Turkish encroachments in northern Syria

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By Rudaw yesterday at 03:49
Protesters, mainly Kurds, chant slogans during a demonstration in the town of al-Qahtaniyah, in the Hasaka governorate near the Syrian-Turkish border on November 1, 2018, against Turkish attacks on Kurdish posts in northern Syria. Photo: Delil Souleiman | AFP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Seven Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac parties rejected Turkey’s recent military actions in Kobane and Gire Spi (Tal Abyad) in a joint statement on Friday, condemning them as strikes against the “protection units of the people and the Kurds.”

“As Assyrian-Chaldean political parties we denounce and reject these Turkish encroachments on the northern regions of Syria,” read a statement by the Syriac Military Council (SMC).

The SMC is a member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the partnered ground force of the US-led international anti-ISIS coalition.

The UK-based conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Turkish forces carried out attacks on Thursday in Kobane and in Gire Spi injuring an unspecified number of civilians.

The SDF announced on Wednesday it was temporarily halting its offensive against ISIS in the Hajin pocket of Deir ez-Zor — the most significant ISIS holdout east of the Euphrates. It cited Turkey repeatedly shelling Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

The SDF is primarily led by the mostly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) who the coalition repeatedly has described as the most effective anti-ISIS fighters.

SDF media representative Mustafa Bali said early on Friday two journalists from Hawar News were shot in Gire Spi, a border town in Raqqa.

The agency based in Rojava later reported Ibrahim al-Ahmad and Gulistan Mihemed were wounded.

“These threats are also aimed at disrupting the campaign of Jazira Storm that reached the last strongholds of ISIS in Deir ez-Zor countryside, which will revive this organization again,” read the joint Christian party statement.

The United States has said it will attempt to deescalate the situation between the Kurds and Turkey. The Observatory reported on Friday the coalition was sending a convoy to patrol the border.

“The aim of the Turkish regime is not to only strike at the protection units of the people and the Kurds, but all peoples, especially the Syriac Assyrian Chaldean component, which finds stability in the region as a strong factor for its continued existence on its lands,” added the joint statement.

The SDF also published a joint statement by human rights organizations in Syria.

“These aggressive acts against the Kurdish area in Rojava Kurdistan-Northern Syria on the part of the Turkish state are during disgusting international silence and abandonment, at a time when the sons of the area fight the worst terrorist organization (Daesh), backed by Turkey in its last pocket in the Deir ez-Zor and Hasaka countryside,” read the statement.

They denounced the acts and called on the US-led coalition or international organizations to intervene.

“We also call on all lovers of peace and peacefulness organizations, countries and commissions to put pressure on the Turkish side to stop its enmity and protect the area from any Turkish aggression that could lead to catastrophe and suffering against the sons of the area just like how it happened in Afrin,” added the statement.

Stephen Hadley, a former US National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, described the SDF as “about 50/50 now between Kurd and Arab” in remarks at an event at the United States Institute for Peace on Tuesday. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis also spoke.