02/03/2018, 09.52
SYRIA
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Afrin, young Christians kidnapped and forcibly enlisted

The alarm launched by the World Council of Arameans. On January 19, seven youths were kidnapped. They were released after negotiations. There is no news of the last one, a young man of 20.

Afrin (AsiaNews) - More and more young Christians in the north-east of Syria are being kidnapped to be forcibly enlisted to fight the Turkish army on the Kurdish-Syrian front of Afrin, denounce the Syriac group World Council of Arameans.

Local Christian sources, under conditions of anonymity because they fear for their lives, say that the YPG Kurdish forces have intensified intimidation and threats against Christians in the Syrian north-east. On January 19, seven young Christians were kidnapped: four Armenians and three Arameans (or Syriac). Added to these are two Arameans captured in the last two days while they were heading towards the University of Hassake.

Six of the group taken on January 19 were released after intense negotiations. The fate of Saliba A., a young 20-year-old Aryan, captured in his shop in Qamishli remains unknown. Saliba was initially held in the vicinity, in the city of Kebek. His condition is currently uncertain. "Every day they tell us that they will release him soon. Then they say 'tonight', and after that 'tomorrow morning'. After 10 days we stopped believing their empty promises and we are worried about his situation," says one of his friends.

Local sources suspect that the area has become a Kurdish military training center, and that young Christians like Saliba could be sent to fight in Afrin. Recruitment would be compulsory. The Arameans complain that even teenagers without military training are taken by force from the streets, schools and shops.

Before the conflict broke out in 2011, 2.3 million Christians constituted 10% of the Syrian population. Hundreds of thousands of Arameans have fled from the war-torn country.

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