10/17/2019, 16.00
IRAQ - SYRIA - TURKEY
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Fruits of the Turkish offensive: 'Hundreds of Kurds and Syrian Christians fleeing Kurdistan'

The parish priest of the diocese of Amadiya confirms the exodus underway from the eastern sector of Syria. The regional government is preparing to welcome them, but lack sufficient resources. Erdogan snubs Trump and his emissaries, but accepts Putin's invitation. Increasingly insistent rumors of a reorganization of the Islamic State, jihadists returning to Mosul.

Erbil (AsiaNews) - "Many Kurds are pouring in from the eastern sector of Syria, from Hassaké and Qamishli"  some have “sought refuge in a makeshift camp between Erbil and Dohuk, others in Zakho. There are hundreds, entire families" fleeing “the bombing" Fr. Samir Youssef, pastor of the diocese of Amadiya tells AsiaNews.

He is commenting on the "Source of Peace" operation being pursued by Turkey against the Kurds in northern Syria, which risks causing a new humanitarian emergency. Among the areas most at risk are Iraqi Kurdistan where the regional government "is preparing to welcome fleeing families".

The pastor of Enishke, among the beneficiaries of the AsiaNews campaign "Adopt a Christian from Mosul", which continues to face growing demands amid the disengagement of the international community, reports stories that "confirm the Turkish bombing of the cities".

Local television stations, in Iraqi Kurdistan, broadcast "dramatic images of civilians killed, in Qamishli Christians also died in the early days of the offensive". Here, he continues, "there are already families who came in 2013, at the beginning of the war and they never left. Others are on their way".

Fr. Samir-explains: "We are dealing with people who have really suffered. Some families had returned to Syria, to their native lands, to start a new life and were forced to flee again. In the recent past the presence of the Americans had guaranteed a certain stability in the north-east of Syria, their departure and the Turkish offensive has upset the situation and the families have decided to return to Kurdistan".

"We spoke with the priests of the area [theater of violence] - he continues - and from what we know there are also some Christian families fleeing Hassaké and Qamishli, who have already found shelter among relatives in Ankawa and Erbil".

However "the exodus continues" towards Iraqi Kurdistan which cannot accommodate everyone, thus giving rise to a further destabilization. "We no longer have aid from the international community," says Fr. Samir - while the number of Kurdish refugees, Christians, Sunni Arabs is getting bigger. The scenes of children begging on the streets are increasingly frequent... Kurdistan alone cannot face the emergency ".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected the new warning from his US counterpart Donald Trump, who sent Vice-President Pence and State Secretary Pompeo to Ankara to negotiate. The "Sultan" said he did not want to receive US emissaries, who will meet Turkish "counterparts", while he accepted Vladimir Putin's invitation to the Kremlin for October 22nd. Washington threatens new sanctions, but it is becoming increasingly clear that developments in this new crisis will be played along the Moscow-Ankara axis, while Damascus is helping the Kurds by sending new troops to the area.

"We are appealing to Europe and the United States to show more decision towards Turkey" confides Fr. Samir, although "so far we are not seeing any results just more people who continue to suffer from these wars that create confusion and instability".

Moreover, he adds, "even before the Turkish offensive, when rumors of a withdrawal of US troops began to circulate, it was clear that something would have happened and that the picture was destined to become increasingly complicated".

In this context, there is now a very clear and real danger of a new rise of the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis).

"We have heard - says the parish priest - of ISIS families who fled the detention centers and arrived in Mosul. Inside there are jihadists from Germany, France, but also Iraqis, Saudis who took advantage of the situation to escape, given that their guards are now engaged in fighting at the front ".

They are families, fighters who have remained tied to fundamentalist ideology. "In fact, within the camps they were in charge, the women were killed if they didn't respect the precept of the veil or other impositions. They are people - concludes Fr. Samir - who still believe in the Islamic State and returning to their areas of origin find new support, people willing to work together to help them regain command. Also because in many parts, two or three years after the liberation, the basic resources and services are still lacking. And Isis is seen as the only solution to this crisis".

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