11/02/2020 Syria (International Christian Concern) – Following Islamic prayers this past Friday, Islamists removed the cross of the Saint Sergius and Bacchus Greek Orthodox Church in the Syrian city of Tabqa (near Raqqa). Video footage of the incident shows that the church was already significantly destroyed because of previous conflict related to ISIS and the civil war. The cross was previously restored by the city government as a way of encouraging Christians to return.
Many have pointed out that this incident occurs as a number of anti-Christian activities are occurring throughout the Middle East in response to heightened tensions between Turkey and France. These tensions are framed in extremist religious terms that worry many within the region, and have led to more serious consequences in some instances. Others have noted that this cross removal occurred in an area controlled by US-backed forces know as the SDF. There are reports that Turkey is pushing for these kinds of protests as a way of undermining the SDF.
At this stage in Syria, many Christians have fled the country and have little desire to return. These kinds of incidents validate their decision to leave, and discourage the few Syrian Christians who remain. As so often is the case in Syria, persecution often runs parallel to geopolitics, given the vast number of countries who have intervened in the civil war.
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