Church 'deeply concerned' over Turkish Syria offensive

US forces are withdrawing from Syria.Reuters

The Church of Scotland has called for "swift action" to bring an end to violence in northern Syria after Turkey began its offensive on the region. 

Turkish forces entered the area on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump withdrew American troops from the region. 

At least 11 civilians have already been killed, the BBC reports, while tens of thousands have fled their homes. 

Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, has strongly criticised the offensive.

"As the world watches reports of Turkish forces moving into northern Syria, we are deeply concerned for the loss of lives and destruction of homes that will have a devastating impact on the local population," he said. 

"Diverse communities who have called this home for centuries are threatened with violence and religious persecution.

"Once again many thousands of people may be forced to flee from their homes in fear and will end up being displaced in other parts of Syria, or forced to survive in unsafe and unhealthy refugee camps.

"The Church calls on the international community to take swift action to end the violence and seek peace ."

Trump announced on Sunday that some 1,000 US troops would be withdrawn from Kurdish-controlled regions of Syria despite strong opposition at home and abroad. 

The International Rescue Committee aid organisation estimates that at least 64,000 people have left their homes as a result of the offensive.

US Christians have been critical of the decision, warning that Christians and Yazidis who sought shelter in Kurdish-controlled areas after being brutally persecuted by ISIS, will once again be put at risk. 

John Stonestreet and David Carlson, of the US Breakpoint ministry, said they were in "grave peril".

"With US troops out of northeastern Syria, the Kurds — and the Yazidis and Christians they protect — will be fully exposed, and therefore in grave peril," they said. 

"They will be forced to turn their attention and their fighters away from ISIS to confront the existential threat from Turkey.

"The resulting vacuum could lead to a resurgent and emboldened ISIS, much as President Obama's unwise and impulsive withdrawal from Iraq led to a re-organizing of our enemies there."