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Statement condemning attacks on Christians in Syria

Statement condemning attacks and atrocities by the so-called “Islamic State” perpetrated against Assyrian Christians in Syria.

25 February 2015

The World Council of Churches condemns the latest attacks and atrocities by the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) most recently against Christian villages in the region of Khabour in the governorate of Hassake, Syria. According to reports received, in the early morning of 23 February large numbers of IS fighters attacked these villages, killing a number of civilians, taking approximately 100 people captive, and provoking a mass exodus from these communities. These attacks seem to be attempts at opening a new corridor towards the Turkish border that could facilitate the procurement of both weapons and mercenaries.

The majority of the Christian population of these villages belong to the Ancient Church of the East, also known as the Assyrian Church. There are also a considerable number who are members of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Some of them are descended from ancestors who fled the genocide in 1915, and others had fled from Iraq following a massacre in August 1933, and settled in Syria in the hope they could return one day to their homeland. Now they have been attacked and displaced again, continuing the process of geographic sectarian displacement in the region and accelerating the loss of the ancient cultural and religious diversity of the Middle East.

The World Council of Churches denounces these and all other attacks against this diverse social fabric, on which rest the prospects for an inclusive society and sustainable peace. Moreover, the WCC condemns all violent attacks against civilians as war crimes and crimes against humanity, whoever may commit them. We call for effective measures by the international community to protect civilians and the targeted communities from further attacks, and to ensure the perpetrators’ accountability for their crimes.

Georges Lemopoulos
Acting general secretary