Continuing their work in North and East Syria, Free Burma Rangers, a US nonprofit organization, has rebuilt an Armenian Apostolic church that was destroyed by ISIS in Raqqa, the former capital of the so-called “ISIS caliphate.”
The Free Burma Rangers in front of the rebuilt church
The Free Burma Rangers are a humanitarian organization that has been working in Syria and Iraq since 2015, when the Yazidis were targeted by ISIS on a mass-scale. Their activities range from teaching front-line medical treatment, to documenting human rights violations and crimes against humanity. Although their origins lie in Myanmar, Their operations in Syria were brought to international attention in 2019, when Turkish-backed forces invaded Syria, causing widespread displacement and death in the region. The humanitarian efforts of the Free Burma Rangers saved the lives of many people, and one of their Burmese volunteers was killed when Turkish-backed forces shelled a humanitarian convoy they were supporting.
Since the frontlines have stabilized, their work has continued, especially in the regions where minorities have greatly suffered, first at the hands of ISIS and now at the hands of Turkish-backed forces, such as in Tel Tamr, where the Assyrian Christian community has been decimated in their native homeland.
Syriac Military Council honoring the Free Burma Rangers for their work in North and East Syria
The organization reportedly decided to rebuild the Armenian church after meeting an Armenian Christian who was trying to get it rebuilt. They learned from that individual that only 15 Christians remained in the region, a tiny representation of the pre-conflict number of 5,000. After several years, and by coordinating with the Raqqa Civil Council, Syrian Democratic Forces, and various local volunteers, the group managed to completely rebuild the church.