Middle East

Residents celebrate Christmas in N. Syria with fervor

Christians say they feel safe after Turkey's anti-terror operation in region

Burak Dağ   | 25.12.2019
Residents celebrate Christmas in N. Syria with fervor People attend the Christmas Eve mass at the Syriac Orthodox Church in Ras al-Ayn, Syria on December 25, 2019. ( Hisam El-Homsi - Anadolu Agency )

RASULAYN, Syria  

Assyrian Christians celebrated Christmas in Syria’s northern town of Ras al-Ayn, which was cleared of terrorists in an operation led by Turkey.

Christmas Eve Mass in Syria's Ras Al-Ayn

RAS AL-AYN, SYRIA - DECEMBER 25: Ziyad Musa speaks to press after he attending the Christmas Eve mass at the Syriac Orthodox Church in Ras al-Ayn, Syria on December 25, 2019. ( Hisam El-Homsi - Anadolu Agency )

The Turkish Army and its local ally the Syrian National Army (SNA) eliminated PKK/YPG terrorists from the region with Operation Peace Spring in October.

The terrorists were using churches to store ammunitions and as training camps.

The residents gathered in the Assyrian Orthodox Church of the town for mass and lit candles.

Ziyad Musa, who attended the mass, told Anadolu Agency: "We celebrated the day in peace and security. Fortunately, we are not prevented from fulfilling our religious duties."

“I would like to thank Turkey and the Syrian National Army for paying special attention to our churches. I also would like to thank our Muslim brothers for greeting us on Christmas,” he said.

Another resident, Enam Musa said: “I call on civilians who felt compelled to leave the region: 'Ras al-ayn is safe now.' We can practice our religion safely."

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

The operation has been paused following two deals with Russia and the U.S. to allow terrorists to withdraw from the region.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is its Syrian offshoot.

* Writing by Burak Dag

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