Armenians and Syriacs in Rojava: Turkey wants to wipe us out

Til Temir is one of the places in northern Syria where Syriacs and Armenians had fled from the Ottoman genocide. Many live in the village of Til Nisrî. The village is now acutely threatened by the Turkish state.

With the Ottoman genocide that began in 1915, 1.5 million Armenians and about 500,000 Syriacs were murdered. Yazidis were also persecuted and murdered by the Ottoman regime. Thousands fled to Europe, Rojava and South Kurdistan. Some of these refugees have settled in the village of Til Nisrî near Til Temir.

There is a church in each of the 34 villages of the Til Temir district in the northern Syrian province of Hesekê. Ten churches were destroyed by the ISIS. One of these churches is the Maryam-al-Azra church in the village of Til Nisrî. It was blown up by the ISIS on 23 February 2015. Hundreds of Christian women were murdered, many kidnapped and many more displaced.

"They now want to complete their genocide with their gangs"

One of the witnesses of the cruelty of the ISIS is Syriac citizen Sargon Koshaba from Til Nisrî. His family originally came from Hakkari province in Northern Kurdistan and was forced to flee to Til Nisrî because of the genocide in 1915. Sargon tells about the ISIS attack in 2015: "They attacked our village in the most cruel way. They committed a massacre of the regional population and plundered everything. As if the Ottoman genocide against the Armenians and Syriacs had not satisfied them, they are now on the Xabûr border and continue their attacks. Now they want to repeat the massacres on us with the same Ottoman attitude. The Turkish state deliberately commits genocide with its gangs, they want to destroy us.

"We resist the invasion with the peoples of the region"

We resist the invasion shoulder to shoulder with the peoples of the region. Our struggle will crush the attacks of the Turkish state and we will return again to a life of peace and security. There is no greater sin than to make our people the victim of a dirty deal. I call on the UN to stop Turkey immediately in its attack on Northern and Eastern Syria."

Cosfin Ilyas Namo (75) comes from an Armenian family from Mardin. Her family fled from the Ottoman genocide to Til Temir. Many of Cosfin's relatives still live in Northern Kurdistan and Turkey, but since they were forced to convert to Islam, they no longer have contact with most of them.

"Where are we supposed to flee?"

Cosfin was born in Til Nisri. After the ISIS attack she fled to Qamishlo, then to Hesekê and finally she came back to Til Nisrî. She spent most of her life on the run, she says and continues: "They slaughtered the whole people, tore down their places of prayer. They have no humanity. How long will we live as refugees? Where should we go? I will not leave here. My life is no more precious than that of the young people who fight against the invasion. I will stay here with them."