U.S. troops and approximately 100,000 Christians are endangered by a pending Turkish attack on northeastern Syria. The situation has prompted a Christian self-defense force to beg the American army for protection.
A partner of the Christian force, the Syriac Military Council, sent a message to Clarion Project, among other organizations as well as the U.S. government, asking for help. The SMC’s public statement says:
“We urge the Christians in the U.S. to ask that the U.S. Army that is present in North-East Syria will not allow the Turkish army and jihadists to invade North-East Syria. Will the U.S. Army stand by idly while we are killed?”
Aram Hanna, the commander of the Syriac Military Council, told the Clarion Project that the SMC is 3,000-strong (including its police branch named Sutoro). It also includes a Christian female unit as well as Christians identifying as Syriacs, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Aremenians.
The Christians fought in the campaign against ISIS, including the Battle of Raqqa.
The force expects to be targeted for destruction by the Turkish military and its jihadist proxies, putting the entire Christian population in the area “under direct threat.”
The Turkish army and its jihadist proxies are assembling near Manbij and Tal Abyad. The state-controlled Turkish media is publishing claims that Arabs in the area are protesting against oppression, setting the stage for Erdogan to swoop in as a contrived knight in shining armor.
“The current 100,000 Syriac/Assyrian Christians are the last few that are left [in the northeast]. They refused to leave their ancestral homeland. The ongoing genocidal mentality of Muslim radicals over the past 100 years has reduced us down to this small number,” Hanna said.
Turkey considers the Syrian Democratic Forces—which includes the Syriac Military Council—to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an organization designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and the U.S.
The U.S. considers the Syrian Kurds to be separate. Some experts are advocating for delisting the PKK as a terrorist group altogether.
The assassination of a Turkish consulate worker in Iraq on July 17 presents Erdogan with a pretext for an attack, even though the Iraqi Kurds condemned the attack and the PKK has denied responsibility. The PKK has thus far shown restraint as Turkey has waged an assassination campaign and repeated bombing raids against them.
The Turkish regime has demanded a total withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria so that Turkey can establish a “safe-zone” about 18 miles from the border. Erdogan is likely to repatriate up to four million Syrian refugees to the area in a bid to reshape the demographics more to his liking.
Turkish officials have gone so far as to indirectly threaten the lives of the American troops.
The Islamist regime in Turkey openly aspires to destroy the Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed coalition of Kurds, Christians, Arabs and others who control about one-third of Syria. The SDF’s government is remarkably progressive and secular-democratic, with a strong stand for women’s rights and even the human rights of homosexuals.
Johannes de Jong — the director of Sallux, a European political organization connected to the European Christian Political Movement — writes that Christianity is spreading in the area run by the Syrian Democratic Forces. For example, a church in Kobane reopened after ISIS was defeated in the area and the majority of congregants are said to be converts.
“From my own observation and experience with this region since 2014, I know that the Syriac/Assyrian Christians as well as the Armenians are fully part of the government, military (SDF) and civil life … Even Aramaic has been restored for the first time since two millennia as an official language, as it is one of the four official languages,” he told Clarion Project.
The area targeted for conquest by Turkey includes the population centers of the Christians and Kurds, as well as oil fields that the autonomous government relies upon for survival.
“Their towns and villages would indeed be literally in the first line of fire. Places like Derik and Qamishli are very close to or right against the border with Turkey … It would be a victory for the Muslim Brotherhood against freedom and the U.S., and thousands of ISIS members will escape,” he said.
The planned Turkish offensive also endangers U.S. troops in the area who are working with the Syrian Democratic Forces to defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups.
The exact number of U.S. troops in Syria is classified, but it is significantly less than the 2,200 that were there in December when President Trump unexpectedly announced a complete withdrawal from Syria after taking a phone call from Erdogan. (That announcement caused Secretary of Defense Mattis to resign in protest.)
Trump later changed course, agreeing to temporarily leave a minimal force of 400 U.S. troops to maintain the fight against ISIS. The British and French agreed to send troops to Syria, and there are unconfirmed reports of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates arriving.
Trump also tweeted at the time (January 2019) that the U.S. “will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds.”
In addition to the threat to U.S. troops, our allies and persecuted Christians, there are major national security consequences if Turkey is not stopped:
1. ISIS will very likely to able to rebound.
According to the End Times prophecies that ISIS staunchly believes in, the group is destined to make a comeback after an initial defeat. If that happens, it will be seen as an incredible vindication and accelerate the group’s regeneration.
2. Turkey will eliminate the U.S.’only ally in Syria.
As we have seen, air power alone cannot defeat or contain ISIS. Right now, there are four options vying for power in Syria (that is, if the U.S. doesn’t want to get involved in a long-term campaign including nation-building):
- The U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces
- Al-Qaeda and like-minded terrorist groups
- Iranian puppets, including ISIS
- Islamist “rebels” like the Muslim Brotherhood and Wahhabists
3. Turkey will be strengthened as will Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman aspirations of creating a Turkish caliphate with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
4. Iran will be strengthened.
The Iranian-backed forces will conquer most of eastern Syria and its oil fields. The Syriac Military Council is opposed to the Assad regime, viewing that the Iranian-Assad regime and ISIS as two sides of the same coin.
5. A Turkish victory will be a major ideological defeat for the West.
The ideological war with Islamism cannot be won solely by defeating Islamist terrorists. It requires the success of ideologies that are not at war with the West and against Islamism. The autonomous Kurdish areas of Syria and Iraq have the potential to put Islamism on life support.
“What they [the Kurds] are doing in NE Syria is not just defeating ISIS. By implementing freedom and equality of women, freedom of religion and multi-ethnic governance, they are destroying the very fundamentals of jihadism. They are destroying the very culture of oppression which jihadism rests upon,” de Jong said.
That is why the Christians of the Syriac Military Council stand by the Kurds and do not entertain the notion of abandoning them. As the SMC explains:
“We believe it is our duty as Syriac Christians to stand together with the Kurds and Arabs to fight and resist all radical religious terrorist groups and other invaders. Our military cooperation in the SDF strengthened the partnership and coexistence between Arabs, Kurds and Syriac Christians in our region. We have committed to respect the dignity of every group regardless of religion or ethnicity.”
The Syriac Military Council has repeatedly asked President Trump for help. Now, it is focusing on the American public—especially the American church—to try to influence his decision-making.
Erdogan just angered President Trump by buying the Russian S-300 air defense system, causing Trump to follow through on his promise to cancel the scheduled delivery of the American F-35 combat aircraft to Turkey.
Before that, Trump placed sanctions on Turkish officials until they released the American pastor Andrew Brunson in November.
Now, Turkey is preparing to crush our best ally in Syria, endanger the lives of 100,000 Christians, and put U.S., British and French troops at risk.
President Trump must be alerted to what’s about to happen before it’s too late.