Erdogan to Meet With Trump as Turkish Forces Target Kurds, Christians in Syria
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JERUSALEM, Israel - On Wednesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet President Donald Trump at the White House.
The visit comes just more than a month since the start of a Turkish invasion into northeast Syria that has profoundly affected the lives of millions and the Middle East.
Turkey's invasion began on October 9th. The Turkish army began shelling, bombing and attacking northeast Syria.
That same morning the White House stated, "Turkey has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place – and we will hold them to that commitment."
Yet 33 days later, human rights groups, eyewitnesses and humanitarian organizations testify Turkey has violated each commitment.
Civilians bore the brunt.
Amnesty international reported Turkish forces "displayed a shameful disregard for civilian life, carrying out serious violations and war crimes."
The Syrian National Army or SNA is Turkey's ally fighting alongside the second-largest army in NATO. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights identified at least eight cases of proven ISIS members in the SNA.
Mindy Belz of WORLD Magazine is in the region and told CBN News she heard firsthand accounts of atrocities by this group.
"Numerous refugees described for me men having their hands tied behind their backs, seeing them beheaded. I had several reports of beheadings. And people cut in the streets and burned … these are war crimes. This is just incomprehensible in a seemingly senseless way of creating what Turkey calls a safe zone," she said.
Belz said Christians were a specific target.
"I think this is really important. One of the Syrian refugees that I spoke to, and this was a Muslim, went out of his way to explain to me that what he saw was targeting of Christians," Belz said.
The SNA has marked Christian homes with the Arabic letter "N" to identify them as Christian and then confiscated their belongings just like ISIS did a few years ago.
"In one sense it's not surprising but this is the first time it is happening under the sanction of a NATO ally. I don't think we can stress that enough. This is a bizarre reversal of events and it seems like a complete betrayal of our alliances here in this region and it seems even a betrayal of our Christian brothers and sisters," Belz explained.
Since October 9th, the humanitarian crisis has become overwhelming.
Hospitals in northeast Syria are running out of supplies and the international committee of the Red Cross says nearly half a million people may soon be without clean water because Turkish bombs destroyed a key piece of infrastructure.
The invasion has led to a flood of refugees. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and thousands have already flooded into neighboring Kurdistan. There CBN's Operation Blessing is partnering with the Barzani Charity Foundation to help the refugees including giving 160 Christian families food supplies.
"We are providing hot meals, boxes of food for the families and the most needed relief that they need right now. Food, shelter, so needed. These families lost everything again," Diego Traverso from OB said.
Many families are continuing to lose everything and while international organizations document Turkey's violations to its commitments, for some, the question remains on the eve of President Erdogan's visit: will the White Household him accountable as it said it would?
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