North and East Syria Hosts Conference on Religious Freedom

On January 10, 2022, North and East Syria hosted the International Conference on Mesopotamian Religions and Beliefs, aiming to promote the religious diversity of the region. There was representation from the Yazidi community, Syriac Orthodox, Islamic, as well as Zoroastrian and Alawite, among others. 

Topics that were focused on included the relationship between religion and peaceful coexistence amongst peoples, and “Factors that led to violations practiced against nations in the name of religion”. 

The conference was attended by prominent figures including Fauza Yousuf of the Democratic Union Party’s Presidential Council, His Eminence, Patriarch Mor Ignatius Joseph III Younan, the Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, and Nadine Maenza, President of the United States Committee for International Religious Freedom. 

Turkish-backed Attacks Decimate Infrastructure near Ayn Issa

Despite ceasefire agreements with Russia and the United States, Turkish-backed forces stationed near the M4 Highway have continued near daily bombardment against several regions in North and East Syria, including Ayn Issa, which saw its source of water, the al-Hiesha Water Station, damaged by Turkish shelling on January 12, 2022. 

Nour Amin, co-chair of the Water Directorate of Ayn Issa, stated that it will cost the AANES approximately 125,000 dollars to repair the station, and that work to do so will begin immediately. 

Turkish-backed forces have consistently targeted infrastructure of the region in an attempt to make it uninhabitable. The region has only begun to recover from the devastation that was wrought during the war against ISIS, and the AANES has to contend with further destruction and damage while attempting to repair infrastructure that has been previously destroyed.  Access to water in particular has been difficult due to both drought and Turkish weaponization of water. 

Executive Council of Afrin Marks Fourth Anniversary of Turkish Occupation

The Executive Council of Afrin, which is present and active within the Shehba region of North and East Syria, where hundreds of thousands of Afrin IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) have been residing in camps since the Turkish occupation of their region, have issued a statement marking the fourth anniversary of the occupation.

Afrin IDPs commemorating child victims of the Turkish offensive

The Council stated that the issue of Afrin is an issue for all Syrian people, as it is a case of a foreign and hostile state illegally occupying Syrian territory and changing its demographics. 

They further emphasized their disappointment with the international community, stating that their silence has given Turkey a green light to continue occupying parts of Syria and to expand their attacks.