When the bombs started falling
Pastor George remembers that the massive attack, launched against the Kurdish centers and neighborhoods, began at about 3 pm. Nearby villages were targeted. Usually, people are at home at that time, he explained.
[Editor’s note and update: Since the time of publication, Turkey has agreed to a five-day ceasefire. Please continue praying for Christians in this part of Syria, and that peace will continue past the ceasefire period. We will continue to monitor the situation through our partners on the ground and will update you with any new information.]
“The attack was out of the blue. We were shocked. I knew where the bombs were falling, and I called people I know from that area. I got so scared for them. My family and I were safe, thankfully, and we had faith in the Lord. But my fear was for those people I know live close to the border. I started thinking how can we get them out. We were unable to reach some people and when we contacted them, I said to leave immediately and brought them to my house. We received several families who left their homes and came to the city; some Kurds are believers and are part of our church. We asked them to come and stay in guest houses and provided supplies like rice, sugar, canned food, bread and cheese. We helped all who asked for our help in the best possible way we could.
“I tried to provide for the people who are left with nothing. For example, a mother and her three daughters and a son arrived at my house, and we started praying and asking the Lord for peace. Of course the children were afraid, especially my youngest son, but by praying we had a sense of safety.”
The attack lasted for almost 12 hours until about 3 or 4 am the next day. The next day, the shelling resumed, also at 4 pm.
“This was more vicious. More bombshells fell in neighborhoods, such as the local market, a groceries [store] and the bakery. It was terrifying. People started gathering food supplies in case all of the markets closed. The next day, Qamishli was empty, life stopped, everyone stayed in their homes.
The fear of bombs was only exacerbated by fears of ground troops and groups connected to Islamic State entering the city.
“The first three days were terrifying; everyone felt threatened, especially when rumors spread that the Turkish militias might enter the city or even groups linked to ISIS might attack our city. It was terrifying imagining what they might do, especially because of what we had heard about what ISIS had done in the nearby villages close to Afrin—when they were killing men and raping women, taking them as slaves. That was the biggest threat to us, we felt unsafe even more than during the bombings.”