How this Syrian town went from 12,000 to 1,000 Christians

June 13, 2022 by Noah Cassetto in Middle East

Violence isn’t new to the Syrian town of Tal Tawil.

Located in northwestern Syria, about 50 miles from the Turkish border, the predominantly Christian town Tal Tawil has survived a decade of civil war. Over the years, residents have faced repeated attacks from Syrian President Assad’s regime, Kurdish nationalists and Islamic State fighters, among others. And since October 2019, Tal Tawil has stayed under fire by Turkish forces who have bombed the town and its surrounding areas almost daily.  

On May 28, another Turkish bombardment severely damaged the Mar Sawa Church in the town. Reportedly, parts of the walls were destroyed, pews were damaged, and the floor left cluttered with broken glass, and plaster. An Open Doors partner reports regular attacks by the (allies of) the Turkish forces. The church was hit by mortars and a rocket. 

The Mar Sawa bombing is indicative of the indiscriminate violence that has plagued the area for years. In 2015, the same church was attacked by ISIS fighters. A region where Christian community once thrived has seen its believers scattered. Over the past decade, the town and its surrounding countryside have seen the population decrease from 12,000 to a mere 1,000. Those who remain live in danger from further attacks. 

Today, the town is facing the threat of another Turkish invasion. Since 2016, Turkish President Erdogan has staged multiple occupations of Syrian territory.  

“People of the area hear about the threat of a Turkish invasion daily,” reports a local partner. “There is real fear that if this will happen, the whole Christian area will be in the so-called ‘safe zone’ of the Turkish armed forces. They feel this is a threat.” 

Pray for Tel Tawil

Let’s pray for those who remain in Tel Tawil. Pray that they would stay safe from any attacks and see an immediate end to violence. 

Praise God for the remnant of Christians who remain in the area. Pray their faith would not be shaken, that they would walk in the confidence of Christ and continue witnessing to their neighbors.