PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’s order to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria effectively greenlit Turkey’s invasion of the region. With this shift in U.S. policy, Turkey has been given an opening to reshape its borders and begin to carry out a multi-faceted strategy. As the crisis unfolds, one thing is clear: Christians and other minorities are again in the eye of the storm.
Northeastern Syria is home to at least 40,000 Christians: Armenians, Chaldeans, Assyrians, as well as Syriac Catholics and Syriac Orthodox. Although suffering some restrictions, they have been living under the protection of the Kurds in an area that stretches 300 miles from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border. Kurds comprised the bulk of the Syrian Defense Forces that, alongside U.S. troops, fought against ISIS.
To make matters worse, Kurds have warned that they may abandon the guarding of some 11,000 ISIS prisoners, who, if freed, would pose a huge threat to the entire region.
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