Accusations have been made against Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups for the pillaging of the Armenian Church in Tel Abyad.
The launch of the Turkish-backed military offensive in northern Syria, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring”, has impacted the local communities living in the targeted regions, especially in and around the so-called “safe-zone” established by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and its allied Syrian rebel forces. The Armenian community located in Tel Abyad has been impacted by the military developments in the region, evidenced by the pillaging of the Armenian church.
Images have been released of the wreckage that took place inside the Armenian church of Tel Abyad around a month ago. The incident took place as Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces entered the town of Tel Abyad, which represents the eastern part of the “safe-zone”.
The issue of the Armenian Church in Tel Abyad turned into a propaganda war between Turkey and the northern Syrian rebels on the one hand, and the Kurdish-dominated military forces on the other. The former have accused the People’s Protection Forces (YPG) of destroying the inside of the Church and replacing religious symbols with political posters, whereas the latter have accused the former of damaging the contents of the Church and presenting it as an act of vandalism by the YPG, while claiming that the Turkish Defence Ministry is contributing to its renovation.
Al Aan journliast Jenan Moussa has since commented on the incident and claims that she has gathered information from local sources, according to whom the vandalism and pillage took place on 31 October at the hands of Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.
The Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency has responded by released a video of an alleged Armenian local from Tel Abyad called “Umm Ilyas” lighting a candle in the Church.
The Armenian community in northern Syria has been blighted by developments in the region. A number of days after the incident in Tel Abyad, an Armenian priest travelling from Qamishli to Deir ez-Zour with his father were killed by ISIS terrorists.