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Syrian Archbishop: 'A Bullet Narrowly Missed My Head'
By Ruth Gledhill
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Christians in Syria are being targeted by Kurdish militias according to a senior Christian leader in the region. Syriac Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo says Kurds in Hassake, a city in north-east Syria, and surrounding areas are responsible for "acts of violence and intimidation" against Christians. Hindo said he believes the aim is to get rid of all Christians from Hassake, one of the 10 largest cities in Syria. Parts of Hassake, which has a large Kurdish population, were lost to Islamic State terrorists but the People's Protection Unit (YPG) managed to seize them back last year. The city, the administrative centre of the region, is now largely under control of Kurdish militia but as in the rest of Syria, fighting is a consant as different groups battle for supremacy. Hindo told Agenzia Fides: "Whenever the Kurdish militia enter in action to reaffirm its military hegemony over the city, the epicenter of their raids and acts of force is always the area of the six churches, where most of the Christians live. Advertisement "In many cases they expelled the Christians from their homes under the threat of Kalashnikovs. And where they enter, they loot everything." He said he had a narrow escape himself when shots of gunfire were fired through the window of his house and a bullet narrowly missed his head. "At that moment, the area was presided over by Kurdish militias, and there were no other armed persons nearby." The status of authority in the city remains confused. The Archbishop said that Shaddadi, once an ISIS stronghold, is now controlled by Kurdish militia but some of these are locals who had previously served under Islamic State. Christians have been targets of Kurds for some time in Syria. In June, Christians were attacked by a suicide car bomber in the Kurdish city of Qamishlo. Turkey has also called on the United Nations to investigate crimes of ethnic cleansing it says the YPG has been committing in Syria. Turkey says YPG has been engaging in a campaign of demographic change in areas it has captured from ISIS. However, Kurdish forces deny the charges and say they are in fact collaborating with Arab and Assyrian fighters.

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