Kurdish militia in north-east Syria are kidnapping Christians to use as forced conscripts.
Seven Christians were abducted around the town of Qamishli on 19 January by Kurdish security forces. Local representatives managed to negotiate the release of six of the young people kidnapped, but at the time of writing, the whereabouts of a 20-year-old young man named Saliba is still unknown.
One of the negotiators said, “The Asayesh (security forces) who seize our youth tell us that they have handed them over to the YPG, the Kurdish armed unit (militia). However, the YPG tells us to contact the Asayesh. They are playing games with us and endeavour to instil fear in us.”
On Wednesday 31 January two Syriac Christian university students, who were travelling to sit exams, were also abducted. Christians in the region report that even teenagers with no military training have been taken from the streets.
“They are being conscripted with the intention to send them to the battle zones in or near Afrin [where Turkish forces are currently attacking the YPG], because these people consider themselves the new rulers of our region.”
The Christian negotiator who helped secure the release of the majority of the group abducted on 19 January states the forced conscription of young people is part of a wider pattern of intimidation by Kurdish forces who “want us to abandon our homeland so that they can seize more of our properties and land.”