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Current Issue
September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
26 January 2018
Greg Kandra




In the video above, Pope Francis offers his prayers Thursday at the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. (video: Rome Reports/YouTube)

Turkey’s Erdogan vows to fight Kurdish forces as far as Iraq (BBC) Turkey is prepared to take its fight against Kurdish forces in northern Syria as far east as Iraq, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. Speaking in Ankara, Mr Erdogan reiterated that his forces will move against Kurdish-controlled Manbij, which risks confrontation with the US. US troops are based in the city, which was taken from the Islamic State group (ISIS) by Kurdish-led forces in 2016...

Russian Orthodox patriarch urges special status for multi-child families (RT.com) Russian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill has urged senators to provide special status for multi-child families in Russia, questioning why this can’t be done when preferences are being given to sexual minorities in the West. “The Church has supported and will support any positive changes in legislation aimed at maintaining maternity and childhood and, especially, to overcome such a terrible phenomenon as orphanage with living parents,” the Patriarch said during an appearance at the Russia Federal Council on Thursday...

Christians turn down $10 million grant in India (UCANews.com) Christian leaders have rejected an offer from India’s tourism ministry of a US$10 million grant for the facelift and maintenance of churches in the Christian-majority state of Meghalaya. Catholic leaders in the state told ucanews.com on 23 January that they will not apply for or accept the funding of 613 million rupees (US $10 million) for illuminations, landscaping, construction of parking lots and toilets among other infrastructure work at 37 churches...

Pope offers prayers at conclusion of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (CNS) When different Christian churches recognize the validity of one another’s baptisms, they are recognizing that God’s grace is at work in them, Pope Francis said. “Even when differences separate us, we recognize that we are part of the redeemed people, the same family of brothers and sisters loved by the one Father,” the pope said 25 January an ecumenical evening prayer service closing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity...

Yazidis express gratitude for pope’s support (Vatican Radio) Serhat Ortac, President of the Society of Yazidi Academics was among those representing the Yazidi people during this week’s audience with the Pope. Ortac told Vatican News that a people the Yazidis are very grateful for the Pope’s invitation and they are very thankful for his support. “We hope to stay in contact with the Vatican to maintain the support and the attention of the world” on the fate of persecuted minorities in Iraq and across the globe, he said...

Unsung Catholic heroes of the Holocaust (Vatican Radio) An official at a Catholic Diocese in northern England said there are many hidden Catholic heroes of the Holocaust, the story of whose bravery needs to be brought to light. Simon Caldwell, Communications Officer at the Diocese of Shrewsbury, said these unsung Catholic heroes risked their lives to secretly shelter Jews from the Nazi persecution and some were put to death for their courageous actions. He was speaking to Susy Hodges just ahead of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January that commemorates the more than 6 million people, mostly Jews, who were exterminated by the Nazis during World War II...



Tags: India Iraq Ecumenism Turkey Russian Orthodox

25 January 2018
CNEWA staff




Embed from Getty Images
In this image from 22 January, African migrants demonstrate against the Israeli government’s policy to forcibly deport African refugees and asylum seekers, outside the Rwanda embassy in the Israeli city of Herzliya. (photo: Getty Images)

Two years ago, writer Diane Handal reported in ONE magazine on the risks and challenges Christians were undertaking to leave Africa and resettle in Israel.

Now, thousands of these African asylum-seekers are at risk of deportation — and just today, survivors of the Holocaust spoke out on their behalf:

A group of Israeli Holocaust survivors has urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the planned deportation of tens of thousands of African asylum seekers.

In a letter sent to the prime minister on Thursday, the 36 survivors called on the prime minister to make a “historic decision” and reverse the controversial deportation plan, according to the Haaretz daily.

“Under your leadership, Israel has set itself the goal of reminding the world of the lessons of the Holocaust. So we ask you: Stop this process! Only you have the authority to take the historic decision, and to show the world that the Jewish state will not allow suffering and torture of people under its protection.”

They added, “Do the Jewish thing, like [former premier] Menachem Begin, who accepted refugees from the Vietnam War, and gave those asylum seekers life.

“As Jews, whom the world turned its back on in our most difficult time, we have a special obligation not to remain indifferent, and to prevent the expulsion of asylum seekers,” they said. “The state must grant them a safe haven and not send them to their deaths in a foreign country.”

There are approximately 38,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, according to the Interior Ministry. About 72 percent are Eritrean and 20 percent are Sudanese, and the vast majority arrived between 2006 and 2012. Many live in south Tel Aviv, and some residents and activists blame them for rising crime rates and have lobbied the government for their deportation.

Last month, the Knesset approved an amendment to the so-called “Infiltrator’s Law” mandating the closure of the Holot detention facility and the forced deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants and asylum seekers starting in March.

Read more.

Meantime, airline pilots are also taking action:

At least three El Al pilots recently published Facebook posts announcing their refusal to participate in the government’s mass deportation of African asylum seekers by not flying them to Rwanda or Uganda following the passing of controversial legislation sanctioning their expulsions.

Related: Surviving Without a Country in the Promised Land



Tags: Egypt Israel Africa

25 January 2018
Elias D. Mallon, S.A., Ph.D.




Pope Francis visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem in this 26 May 2014 file photo. The United Nations observes Holocaust Memorial Day this Saturday 27 January.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano via EPA)


On 27 January every year, the UN observes Holocaust Memorial Day in memory of the millions of Jews who lost their lives in the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe. That singular event cast a long shadow over the 20th century and helped shape the very world that CNEWA serves. Significantly, it reminds us of our association’s work to uplift human dignity and aid those suffering from persecution of all kinds — part of our mission that continues in so many places today. Attention must be paid.

There are some things which non-Jews need to know about the UN observance. First, it is not the same as the Jewish , Yom Hashoah, “Day of the Holocaust,” which is observed every year on the 27th day of the Jewish month of Nisan (April/May), 13 days after the beginning of Passover. Because the Jewish calendar follows the moon, Yom Hashoah falls on a different day every year in the calendar used in the secular world. In 2018 Yom Hashoah falls on 12 April. The UN observance of Holocaust Memorial Day falls on the same day every year.

There needs to be another clarification for non-Jews. The Hebrew word , shô’ah, is commonly translated holocaust, which is derived from the Greek ὁλὁκαυστοç, holokaustos, which referred to a sacrifice which was completely burnt. The term appears in many translations of the Bible; see, for example Leviticus 17:9 “any man... among you who offers a holocaust or sacrifice....” The Hebrew word which “holocaust” is translating is , ‘olah — a sacrifice totally consumed by fire. Although the Hebrew words shô’ah and ‘olah are both translated into English as “holocaust,” the two should never be confused. ‘olah refers to a religious act; shô’ah means total, devastating destruction that has nothing to do with worshiping God.

The Shoah was a defining moment in the history of the West and, indeed, of the entire world. In Nazi Germany, the ideology of anti-Semitism was able to use modern technology in a demonically thorough way. Over six million Jews, an estimated two-thirds of the European Jewish community, were slaughtered in a Europe that considered itself “enlightened.” While many of the elements of the Shoah were and remain unique, the 20th century witnessed the invention of the word megadeath. In the 20th century millions of people were slaughtered because of who they were — Jews in Nazi Europe, Armenian and Assyrian Christians in the Ottoman Empire, opponents of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and others.

As it unfolded, the 20th century came to be seen by many as a time of great progress. The Shoah and other genocidal actions shocked the world out of its often self-righteous complacency. It was learned to our horror that progress is a two-edged sword. It can be used to improve peoples’ lives — or used to kill with an efficiency only the modern world could muster.

Pope Francis kisses the hand of a Holocaust survivor during a ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. (photo: CNS/Abir Sultan, EPA)

The Shoah forced Europe and European Christians to face centuries of anti-Semitism in culture, politics and even religion. Major figures such as Anne Frank, Corrie ten Boom, Elie Wiesel, Jules Isaac and others aroused the world’s conscience. Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, helped Jews escape the Nazi’s while he was stationed in Istanbul. Later as pope, he had a crucial encounter with the Jewish philosopher Jules Isaac, who wrote about the “teaching of contempt,” which Christians had used to dehumanize Jews for centuries. The experience of the horror of the Shoah was certainly in the background when Pope John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). It was this council which produced the document Nostra Ætate (28 October 1965) which made it the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that “neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time {i.e. the death of Jesus}, nor Jews today can be charged with the crimes committed during his {i.e. Jesus’} passion” (par. 4). The age-old accusation that Jews were deicides, or “God killers,” was rejected by the Catholic Church. Other churches soon followed suit.

We humans have short memories, however, and ancient pathologies, prejudices and hatreds have a tendency to resurface as if we had learned nothing. Both the Jewish observance of Yom Hashoah and the UN observance of Holocaust Memorial Day are not merely observances of past history. They are potent reminders of the depths to which we humans can sink at any time, and powerful calls to vigilance against that murderous hatred and bigotry which can erupt when we become indifferent and forgetful of the past.



25 January 2018
Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service




Pope Francis presides over an ecumenical prayer service 25 January with Orthodox Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy and Malta and Anglican Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, the archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative to the Holy See, at Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The service marked the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
(photo: CNS/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)


When different Christian churches recognize the validity of one another’s baptisms, they are recognizing that God’s grace is at work in them, Pope Francis said.

“Even when differences separate us, we recognize that we are part of the redeemed people, the same family of brothers and sisters loved by the one Father,” the pope said 25 January an ecumenical evening prayer service closing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The week ends on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, and the papal vespers are celebrated at Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the church where, according to tradition, the apostle is buried.

At the beginning of the prayer service, Pope Francis stood before what is believed to be St. Paul’s tomb, accompanied by Orthodox Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy and Malta and Anglican Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, the archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative to the Holy See.

The theme of the 2018 week of prayer was “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,” which is taken from the song of Moses and Miriam in the Book of Exodus. It is a song of praise to God for having saved the Israelites as they crossed the Red Sea.

In his homily, Pope Francis said the early church theologians saw the parting of the Red Sea, the drowning of the Pharaoh’s forces and the safe passage of the Israelites as an image of baptism.

“Our sins are what was drowned by God in the living waters of baptism,” he said. “Sin threatened to make us slaves forever, but the force of divine love overpowered it.”

Precisely because Christians have experienced God’s “powerful mercy in saving us,” they can pray together and sing God’s praises, he said.

Related: Praying for Christian Unity

Another lesson from the crossing of the Red Sea, the pope said, is that while it involved individuals being saved by God, it also involved a community.

And after St. Paul was knocked off his horse and converted, he said, “the grace of God pushed him to seek communion with other Christians, immediately, first in Damascus and then in Jerusalem.”

“That is our experience as believers,” the pope said. “Bit by bit as we grow in the spiritual life, we understand better that grace reaches us together with others and that it is meant to be shared with others.”

“When we say we recognize the baptism of Christians from other traditions, we are confessing that they, too, have received the forgiveness of the Lord and his grace is working in them,” Pope Francis said. “And we accept their worship as an authentic expression of praise for what God has accomplished.”

But, he said, like the Israelites who wandered through the desert after passing through the Red Sea, Christians today face difficulties in their journey together. Some even face the danger of martyrdom simply because they are Christians.

And, like people of many religious traditions, there are millions of Christians in the world who fleeing from conflict and poverty or who are victims of human trafficking or are starving “in a world increasingly rich in means and poor in love,” the pope said.

But united in baptism and strengthened by God’s grace, he said, Christians are called to support one another and, “armed only with Jesus and the sweet power of his Gospel, to face every challenge with courage and hope.”

Earlier in the day, meeting with a delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Pope Francis said the greatest ecumenical challenge is to proclaim together faith in God and Jesus Christ to an increasingly secularized world.

And acting together on that faith, he said, Christians must ask for God’s grace to become instruments of his peace.

“May he help us always, amid divisions between peoples, to work together as witnesses and servants of his healing and reconciling love, and in this way to sanctify and glorify his name,” the pope told the Finnish delegation.



25 January 2018
Greg Kandra




Embed from Getty Images
This photograph from December shows Syrian refugees living in the Awde refugee camp in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa province. Lebanon has grown increasingly hostile toward Syrian refugees and politicians have begun saying it’s time for them to leave. (photo: Getty Images)

ISIS fighters detained in camps still pose a threat (The New York Times) American-backed Kurdish militias in northern Syria are detaining hundreds of Islamic State fighters and family members in makeshift camps, raising fears among United States military officials of potentially creating a breeding ground for extremists — repeating a key security mistake of the Iraq war...

Will Lebanon force a million Syrian refugees to return to a war zone? (The Nation) As the crisis dragged on, the mood in the country shifted decisively against the refugees, and the already thin welcome mat began to fray. In January 2015, the Lebanese government introduced visa restrictions that prevented most Syrians fleeing the war from entering the country legally, and in May of that year it ordered the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to stop registering new cases, meaning that the UNHCR can no longer grant new arrivals status as refugees. Most ominous of all, Lebanese politicians have increasingly, and almost unanimously, begun saying that it’s time for Syrian refugees to go home...

Trump’s stance on Jerusalem spikes conflicts between Palestinian and Israeli soldiers (Reuters) Confrontations between young Palestinians and Israeli soldiers have taken on a life of their own since Palestinian leaders called for protests against Donald Trump’s decision to treat Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. While Hamas, Fatah and other groups call for a weekly show of strength on Fridays, dozens of stone-throwers turn out along the border between Gaza and Israel every day, even when, as last Friday, a protest is called off due to bad weather...

Indian’s state data debunks myth about Christian conversions (UCANews.com) People converting to Christianity remains nearly equal to the number of Christians leaving the religion in India’s western Maharashtra state, says government figures which negates claims that missioners attract thousands to Christianity...

The last beekeepers of Ethiopia’s Harenna Forest (BBC) In Ethiopia, honey trickles through centuries of culture and religion. It features in 4th-Century Christian frescoes and tapestries, where saints are seen clutching bereles, the traditional fat-bottomed flasks used for serving tej...



Tags: Syria India Lebanon Ethiopia Jerusalem

24 January 2018
Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service




A man from the Yazidi minority and young people pray at a shrine being rebuilt after it was destroyed in 2017 by Islamic State militants in Bashiqa, Iraq.
(photo: CNS/Khalid al Mousily, Reuters)


All people have a right to freely profess their own religious beliefs without fear of duress, Pope Francis said, calling on the world community to do more to protect the Yazidi minority.

“It is unacceptable that human beings are persecuted and killed because of their religion,” he told a group of Yazidis during a private audience at the Vatican on 24 January.

The Yazidis are a monotheistic religious minority, indigenous to areas in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. They have been especially persecuted by Islamic State militants, who — as they did with Christians — have forced them to convert or be killed.

He told the representatives, who were now living in Germany, that his encounter with them was also a sign of his solidarity and concern for all Yazidis, particularly those in Iraq and Syria.

His thoughts and prayers went to all “innocent victims of senseless and inhuman barbarity,” underlining that all people have the right “to freely and without duress profess and their own religious belief.”

The pope said the Yazidis’ rich spiritual and cultural history has been scarred by the “indescribable violations of fundamental human rights: kidnappings, slavery, torture, forced conversions and killings.”

“Your sanctuaries and places of prayer have been destroyed,” he said, and those lucky enough to have been able to flee have had to leave behind so much, including that which they held to be most holy and dear.

Aware of this tragedy, “the international community cannot remain a mute and inert spectator.”

He encouraged organizations and “people of goodwill” to help rebuild homes and places of worship that have been destroyed and to seek out concrete ways to create the right conditions for people to return to their homelands.

He also said he hoped everything possible would be done to help save those who were still in the hands of terrorists, locate those still missing and identify and properly bury those who have been murdered.

All over the world, he said, there are religious and ethnic minorities — including Christians — who are persecuted because of their faith.

“The Holy See will never tire of intervening by denouncing these situations, calling for the recognition, protection and respect” of minorities as well as calling for dialogue and reconciliation, he said.

“Once more I speak out in favor of the rights of the Yazidis, above all their right to exist as a religious community. No one can allocate oneself the power to eliminate a religious group because it is not among those (who are) ‘tolerated,’ ” he said.

Related: Religious Minorities in the Middle East: The Yazidis



24 January 2018
Greg Kandra




Officials in Armenia are hoping to have Yerevan’s historic Blue Mosque designated a
World Heritage Site. (photo: Wikipedia)


Report: U.S. strike on ISIS headquarters kills 150 militants (BBC) The US-led coalition against the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) says it has killed up to 150 militants in air strikes on a headquarters in Syria. A statement said the strikes took place on Saturday near al-Shafah, in the Middle Euphrates river valley in the south-eastern province of Deir al-sour. A combination of intelligence and continuous target observation ensured no civilians were harmed, it added...

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity underway (Vatican Radio) The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is underway this week and runs until the 25th January. This year’s theme is “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power” (Exodus 15:6) Apart from this theme, there are also different themes for each individual day...

Monitors warn of preparations for fresh fighting in Ukraine (The Irish Times) Government troops and Russian-led militia in eastern Ukraine appear to be preparing for an escalation in fighting, international monitors warned on Tuesday, amid Kremlin condemnation of Kiev’s new legal stance on the grinding conflict...

Christians mark ‘Kappalottam’ in India (The Hindu) The age-old ritual of ‘Kappalottam’ was held at St. Mary’s Forane Church at Kuravilangad, near here, was held with fanfare on Tuesday. The ritual begins with taking out of a wooden replica of a ship, nearly 40-ft in length, being carried by the crowd. The crowd rock the replica of the ship as if it were being tossed in the sea...

Pope issues message for World Communications Day, on countering ‘fake news’ (Vatican Radio) We need a kind of journalism that is less concentrated on “the mad rush for a scoop,” and more on seeking the truth and to “pointing out alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence.” In his Message for World Communications Day, Pope Francis urges communications professionals to return to the foundations of their calling, or rather, their “mission” to be, what he calls, “the protectors of news...”

Yerevan’s Blue Mosque to be considered for designation as World Heritage Site (Armenian Weekly) Armenia will officially submit Yerevan’s Blue Mosque for consideration for UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site List, according to Deputy Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft, and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Mohammad Hossein Talebian. The Blue Mosque (Kapuyt mzkit in Armenian, Masjed-e Kabud In Farsi) is an 18th century Shia mosque in downtown Yerevan. The mosque stopped services during the Soviet years and once housed the History Museum of Yerevan...



23 January 2018
CNEWA staff




Children prepare for the Christmas celebration at the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (photo: CNEWA)

Editor’s note: Argaw Fantu, our regional director in Ethiopia, passed along this note and some pictures from Sister Lutgarda Camilleri, coordinator of the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home in Addis Ababa. CNEWA helped provide funds for the children’s annual Christmas party this year.

Dear Friends and Benefactors:

Peaceful greetings to you all from Kidane Mehret Children’s Home!

How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it! These are the words with which I would like to thank each one of you who have fundraised for our dear children’s Christmas party.

Decorations brightened the hall for the party. (photo: CNEWA)

The photos, I think, will explain the joy, happiness and festivities that the children felt and how they shared this feast with other children who left this home some years ago, who came to enjoy this Christmas party with us.

The children had a joyous time. (photo: CNEWA)

We have no words to thank you for your great generosity. Things like these will surely improve the lives of the children that, although they have no family, they are not forgotten, as the good Lord always remembers and cares for them.

Sister Lutgarda shared in the celebration with the kids. (photo: CNEWA)

Dears, be sure that we will include you in our daily prayers and we ask the good Lord to continue to shower his choicest blessings upon each one of you and on your families.

God bless you all!

Sister Lutgarda Camilleri



23 January 2018
Dale Gavlak, Catholic News Service




Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters are seen on 22 January near, Afrin, Syria. Churches in Afrin are calling on the world to stop the slaughter of civilians during the Turkish military assault.
(photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)


Churches in Afrin, Syria, are calling on the world to stop the slaughter of civilians during the Turkish military assault.

“We ask you to pray for us and for our city which, before a couple of days ago, was full of life, but today is not,” said the Rev. Saeed Daoud, a Syrian clergyman whose name has been changed at his request due to fear of retribution.

“The brutal attack of the Turkish military with extremist Islamic groups has been carried out, without any warning,” he told Catholic News Service in an email, referring to Turkey’s relentless shelling and ground offensive since 20 January.

In an appeal for international help, another religious leader wrote: “We are asking for intervention and protection against the violent attacks which are being levied against us at this moment.

“Many lives are in mortal danger,” said the Rev. Hakim Ismael. “We are unable to protect ourselves or our families against these attacks, neither are we able to offer assistance or shelter to the innocents. Please help us.”

The city of Afrin, located in a Kurdish-controlled area of northwestern Syria, is approximately 30 miles from Aleppo.

Father Emanuel Youkhana, an archimandrite of the Assyrian Church of the East, told CNS: “With the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq and the final phase of its defeat in Syria, we prayed and hoped to move forward in a new phase of reconciliation and rebuilding the life toward a future where all people — Christians, Muslims, Yezidis, Kurds, Arab, Assyrians and all — may live in dignity and justice.

“We are shocked by another brutal and violent attack on the people in Afrin. Here again, the innocent civilians are paying the price for political interests under the pretext of fighting against the terrorist,” said Father Youkhana, who runs Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, a Christian program for displaced Iraqis around the city of Dahuk.

“The Turkish military operations against Kurdish and Christian people of the Afrin region cannot be justified. The civilians cannot be attacked under any claim,” he said, calling for an immediate end to the military operations and immediate aid to the people.

“Attacking who fought ISIS is shocking and questionable action,” he said. “We pray for decision makers to work for peace. Battle cannot be a path to peace.”

Dutch human rights advocate Johannes de Jong told CNS: “The civilian population of Afrin is deliberately targeted and being killed off. This is also a specific threat to the Christian church in Afrin.

“The jihadist proxies used by Turkey to invade Afrin have themselves said that there is no room for Christians there,” added de Jong, who closely monitors events in Syria’s North.

“Will the Trump administration allow Afrin’s civilian population to be indiscriminately killed by the Turkish air force and permit jihadist proxies to invade Afrin and kill any Christian they can find?” he asked.

De Jong directs Sallux, formerly the Christian Political Foundation for Europe, based in The Netherlands. For the past several years, he has worked with minorities in Syria and Iraq, including Syriac Christians, Yezidis, Turkmen and Kurds.

The Kurdish-run city of Afrin has only four hospitals, now packed with “injured people and wounded innocent children,” Rev. Daoud said, adding that there are several reported cases of women who miscarried “due to shock and fear.”

Robar Refugee Camp, housing 600 displaced Syrians from the Aleppo countryside, was bombed with many injuries. Camp residents have appealed to the United Nations to intervene to stop the shelling.

In another instance, 11 members of the same family were killed when they tried to escape the bombardment by sheltering in a nearby village.

Turkish war planes began shelling Kurdish positions in Afrin shortly after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the launch of the military operation named Olive Branch. Erdogan has branded the mainly Kurdish YPG militia in the area a terrorist group; however, much of the bombing appears to be hitting civilian areas.

The YPG denies any direct links with the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party and is a crucial part of a U.S.-backed alliance effectively battling Islamic State and other jihadists in northern Syria.

“That’s Turkey’s excuse for these raids, but in fact they (YPG) are not terrorists,” Lauren Homer, Washington, D.C.-based international human rights lawyer, told CNS of Erdogan’s claims. “To the extent they have fired weapons at the Turks, it’s in response to constant Turkish shelling of this and other areas along the Turkey-Syria border. It is a humanitarian catastrophe.”

“The bombing is quite indiscriminate. The church there is calling for a no-fly zone,” she said.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on 5 February.



23 January 2018
Greg Kandra




The video above shows some of the recent efforts to rebuild Aleppo, devastated after years of war
in Syria. (video: Syria Scope/YouTube)


Report: ISIS still has up to 10,000 loyalists in Syria, Iraq (NBC News) Hisham al-Hashimi, an adviser to the Iraqi government in its battle against ISIS, told NBC News that while the number of active fighters on the battlefield is probably in the range of 1,000 to 1,500, the actual number of ISIS-loyalists in Iraq and Syria is closer to 10,000...

UN aid group: U.S. won’t allow money to help refugees (Business Insider) United Nations aid group UNRWA alleges that US aid money pledged to the organization was specifically earmarked for refugee services in certain areas and could not be used for services in Syria and Lebanon. This marks the first time the US has specifically exempted their funds from being used in those countries, according to Elizabeth Campbell, Director at The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)...

Al-Qaeda leader urges attacks on Jews, Americans over Trump’s Jerusalem recognition (AFP) A senior Al-Qaeda leader has called on Muslims “everywhere” to rise up and kill Jews and Americans in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital...

At least five killed in Ethiopia during Epiphany celebration (BBC) At least five people have been killed in northern Ethiopia after security forces fired on a crowd at a religious festival who were reportedly shouting anti-government slogans. Many more were injured in the incident in the town of Waldiya. Angry protesters have blocked roads and businesses are closed. There have been nearly three years of opposition demonstrations in Ethiopia. On Wednesday, hundreds of activists were released from jail. The deaths happened during the second day of Epiphany, when Orthodox Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus...

Aleppo’s bizarre struggles to rebuild (AP) Fighting has long died down in Syria’s largest city, but Aleppo’s centuries-old market has yet to come back to life, more than a year after government forces retook rebel-held neighborhoods around the Old City. Few shops have reopened in the once sprawling bazaar in the historic quarter, with UNESCO estimating that as much as 60 percent of the Old City was severely damaged and 30 percent destroyed...

UN aid group: U.S. won’t allow money to help refugee in Syria, Lebanon (Business Insider) United Nations aid group UNRWA alleges that US aid money pledged to the organization was specifically earmarked for refugee services in certain areas and could not be used for services in Syria and Lebanon. This marks the first time the US has specifically exempted their funds from being used in those countries, according to Elizabeth Campbell, Director at The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)...







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