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Christians flee as Turkish army closes in on Afrin

Middle East and North Africa

Christians flee as Turkish army closes in on Afrin

Christians are fleeing the northern Syrian town of Afrin as Turkish forces close in, following reports that villages in the region have already been “cleared” of Christians, Yazidis and Kurds.

Christian activists have stated that Turkish forces have already been responsible for “war crimes and ethnic cleansing” in the wider Afrin region and that they have “cleared” villages of Christians, Yazidis and Kurds, “promising to replace them with [Sunni Muslim] Syrian refugees.”

In early February, church leaders reported being under heavy shelling. The town’s water has now been cut off for more than a week, after Turkish troops took control of the main dam and water plant in the region, and at the time of writing, the town itself has been completely encircled.

Turkish forces are also supported by Syrian rebels, some of whom are understood to be militant jihadists.

Turkey is attempting to wrestle control of the region from Kurdish security forces.  Instead of protecting Christians, Kurdish militia have been known to kidnap them to serve as conscripts to fight against the Turkish army.