Baghdad -- The populations, Christian and otherwise, from northern Iraq "are afraid of a return of the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis)", which could exploit the Turkish offensive against the Kurds and the consequences of chaos , to close ranks and reconstitute.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaNews Mgr. Basil Yaldo, auxiliary of Baghdad and close collaborator of the patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, confirms the fears of a "new rise" of the jihadist movement linked to the military operation launched by Ankara in northern Syria and now in its second week. "We have already experienced this - the prelate continues - and there is a strong fear that it may return".
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The Baghdad auxiliary maintains that the war launched by Turkey against Kurds in northern Syria is bound to cause repercussions in neighboring Iraq. As stressed in an appeal by the Chaldean archbishop of Erbil, there is a strong risk of a new wave of refugees in a territory that still bears the consequences of the rise of ISIS in summer 2014.
"For the moment - explains Msgr. Yaldo - the situation is still under control, but the picture is complicated because even here the situation is not peaceful ", as emerges from the recent" demonstrations in Baghdad and in other areas of the country ".
Patriarch Sako's closest collaborator says the intervention of the international community is "fundamental", in particular the United States (and Russia) which must "put pressure on Turkey". The UN, Washington, the great powers "must stop this war" in which in the end, even in this case, " only the poor people, the civil population both in Syria and in Iraq pay the cost".
However, on the front of the "Peace Source" offensive, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara "will never declare a ceasefire", rejecting the request made by its US counterpart Donald Trump to the sender. He therefore confirmed the intention to continue with the military action against the Kurds, which risks triggering a new serious humanitarian crisis that could involve neighboring Iraq.
Erdogan said he did not fear US sanctions and also minimizes the Syrian army's involvement in the offensive, with Damascus troops now deployed to defend Manbij and other strategic areas in the north, following an agreement with the Ypg Kurdish militias. In the next few hours, the arrival of US vice-president Mike Pence and secretary of state Mike Pompeo is expected in Ankara, with the aim of seeking mediation for the truce. In the coming days Erdogan should then fly to Moscow, at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin whose goal is to prevent a war between Turkey and Syria.
This morning the clashes centered around the border town of Ras al-Ain, with Kurdish forces intent on repelling the advance of the Turkish military supported by Arab militiamen and jihadist groups. For the Ankara Ministry of Defense to date at least 637 "terrorists" (Kurdish fighters) have died, but there are no independent confirmations.
In this context of growing violence and terror, the concerns of the leaders of the Iraqi Church are growing. "Yesterday we spoke with the Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, Msgr. Antoine Audo - says the auxiliary of Baghdad - he described a situation of great confusion to us ". This is why, the prelate concludes, the Chaldean Patriarch Card. Louis Raphael Sako "appealed to all the Chaldean churches in the world, asking them to pray for a week for peace in Syria and Iraq".