by Karla Sponar

Two days after the attacks on north Syria began, Christians in Afrin have launched an urgent public appeal for help. “The congregation of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Afrin is asking for immediate international protection for the believers in the city,” reads the appeal, which was forwarded to the international aid organisation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “We call for an immediate stop to the Turkish bombardment.”

The appeal had been written by members of the local evangelical community during the shelling that began in northern Syria over the previous weekend.

“We are under serious attack,” states the desperate message from Christians in Afrin, comprising 250 families in the surroundings. Afrin is part of the Aleppo Governorate with around 30.000 Christians.

According to the appeal, the community is even under siege from two sides: for days, they have been subject to heavy Turkish shelling as well as attacks from Islamic troops that are also moving in on the zone from the periphery.

ACN’s partners on the ground have reported that in Damascus in southern Syria, too, attacks on Christian districts began last Monday. Several individuals were injured, with at least one fatality. Most of the victims are young, including a student.

Last autumn the security situation had improved to the point where schools in Syria were able to reopen. To date ACN has contributed EUR 4.6 million in emergency aid to Syria.