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Fires Destroy 6 Christian Villages in Turkey, Authorities Suspect Insurgents

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Fires Destroy 6 Christian Villages in Turkey, Authorities Suspect Insurgents

Not less than six Christian villages in southern Turkey were ravaged by fires last weekend. The fires which many believe were started intentionally, engulfed the villages of ELbegendi, Guzelsu, Dibek, Uckoy, Ucyol, and Dagici along the Turkey-Syria border.

According to International Christian Concern, “arson has become a recognized insurgent tactic which targets the agricultural resources of villages.” 

Insurgents in Turkey are believed to have burnt down between 700 and 800 olive trees last week. The authorities say that an official investigation will begin once all fire remnants are under control.

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In the most recent incident, authorities suspect arson because fire has been a common tool used against farmers in Syria and Iraq as well. According to The Telegraph, one official told The Guardian that 50,000 hectares have been burned in the region since May, resulting in a loss of $50 million. 

The fires make the nation’s food shortage even more dire. Experts believe that agricultural production had already fallen by almost one-third because of the violence. In addition, “an all-time low” food production immediately endangers the lives of 6.5 million people and could cause another 4 million into food insecurity as well.

A man named Fowaz lamented results of the fires to The Guardian, saying that the country was looking at the best harvest he could remember. He commented, “It’s been more than 60 years since the harvest was this good. The years before we were just planting, but the harvest didn’t come. This year was to be one of the best maybe of our lives.”

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This is just the latest incident causing anxiety for Syriac Christians.

Syriac Christians feel threatened by the build-up of the Turkish military at the border and they have requested that the United States assist them. The Syrian Military Council released a statement explaining the dire nature of their situation, saying, “The Turkish Army started to remove the wall between Turkey and Northern Syria in the Tal-Abyad area. Turkey has amassed its forces and its jihadist proxies at that point. It clearly aims to invade Northern Syria.” The statement continued, “Turkey aims to kill and destroy us and to finish the genocide against our people. {There} are still more than 100,000 Syriac Christians living in NE–Syria and they will be killed or driven away if Turkey invades.”

In response to the request by Christians, United States Syriac officials from the Department of Defense, on Monday set to Ankara, Turkey, to dissuade Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from invading Northeast Syria where many ethnic minorities live, including thousands of Christians.

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Turkey ranks 26 on Open Doors’ 2019 list of countries “where it’s most dangerous to be a christian.” The list was part of Open Doors’ World Watch List report. Open Doors is a religious liberty watchdog.

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