Fighting between Kurdish forces and the Syrian government has broken out again near to several Christian communities in Qamishli, north east Syria. The constant stop-start of the conflict is causing a lot of uncertainty and disruption, and the Syrian church has called on their worldwide Christian family to pray for peace. As of 26 April, there is a truce in place that seems to be holding. Read on to find out how you can be praying for our brothers and sisters in the area.
On 21 April, fighting broke out in Qamishli. The Kurdish Asayesh militia clashed with the National Defence Forces (NDF), who are linked with the Syrian government. It seems that the Kurdish militia tried to take control over the al-Tay neighbourhood in Qamishli, which borders with a largely Christian neighbourhood.
Open Doors contacted a local partner in the city, Pastor George Moushi. He says, “There were fatalities on both sides; guns were firing all night with short periods of stopping occasionally. Now it is more calm than last night, but the fighting has still not stopped. A few church members live near the location where they are fighting. Everyone is fine, but they are in real danger from random shooting. I asked my church members to stay at home and not leave for any reason; they are now in their houses and praying for peace. Please pray for us that God will intervene and calm the situation.”
Priest Samir Kanoon of the Chaldean Church in Qamishli says: “Around 10pm we heard gunshots. It became more intense with time; we also heard explosions.”
Ibrahim (name changed), an Open Doors local partner in Syria, says: “We are closely watching and monitoring the situation. In case we would see displacement, we plan to provide shelter and basic needs for Christians, but we hope it doesn't come to that.”
A brief truce came into being the next day (22 April). An Open Doors contact sent us an audio message (above) calling for Christians to pray for the situation – gunfire and an explosion can be heard in the background. He says, “Sisters and brothers, I’m from Qamishli, north east Syria. Fighting broke out last night. It’s close to the neighbourhood where Christians live. We haven’t slept since yesterday and many Christian families have been displaced to other areas. Please pray for us for the fighting to stop and for the protection of the church.”
“We haven’t slept since yesterday and many Christian families have been displaced to other areas. Please pray for us for the fighting to stop” Open Doors contact in Syria
According to the Christians who spoke to Open Doors partners in Qamishli and to local news outlets, the hostilities started in the neighbourhood of al-Tay, bordering the area where most Christians live in this predominantly Kurdish city.
For several years, the northeast of Syria has been known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and controlled by the Kurdish party. This autonomy isn’t officially recognised by the Syrian government, but it is tolerated. The region has its own military force: the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Sadly, the truce did not last for long; hostilities reignited on 23 April. The NDF and the Kurdish Asayesh forces clashed in Qamishli.
But, as of Monday 26 April, there seems to be a truce in place that is holding. The first people who were displaced are returning to their houses. Please continue to pray that the truce will be respected by both sides.
Pastor Samir says, “We ask prayer that Jesus will pour His peace in the hearts of the people responsible so they would believe the way to peace is love. Pray for our protection and let's be united in prayer.”
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