The Iraqi Christian Association protested the United States' call to halt Turkey's counterterrorism operation in northeast Syria in a statement Tuesday, arguing that the targeted PKK-linked terrorist group has been oppressing Christians living in the region for years.
The association, which was based in Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) capital Irbil, reacted to a tweet by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, announcing that President Donald Trump signed an executive order implementing a new range of sanctions against Turkey over the recently launched Operation Peace Spring.
"President Trump called on the President of Turkey to stop the invasion, to enact an immediate cease fire & to begin negotiations with Kurdish forces in Syria," Pence said.
The Iraqi Christian Association responded with a tweet saying: "Syrian Christians oppose the Kurdish-YPG Marxist-terrorists who have been oppressing Christians for years in NEast Syria. The VP is doing Christians in Syria no favors here. He's actually making things worse for Syrian Christians by supporting negotiations with YPG terrorists."
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, the third in a series of cross-border anti-terror operations in northern Syria targeting terrorists affiliated with Daesh and the PKK's Syrian offshoot the People's Protection Units (YPG), on Oct. 9 at 4 p.m.
The operation, conducted in line with the country's right to self-defense borne out of international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions, aims to establish a terror-free safe zone for Syrians return in the area east of the Euphrates River controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by YPG terrorists.
The YPG has occupied one-third of the Syrian territory and have been oppressing not only Christians but also Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds who do not comply with the terror group's ideology. The terrorist organization has also forcefully deported and demolished the property of those who have refused to submit.
The terrorist group also collects tribute from Christians, calling it tax, and intervenes in schools' curricula or closes schools that do not operate in accordance with its militant ideology.
The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.
Since 2016, Turkey's Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for nearly 400,000 Syrians who fled the violence to return home.