DERBASIYA, Syria (North Press) – Syriac Orthodox Christians in the northeastern Syrian city of Derbasiya celebrated on Friday the festival of St. Thomas the Apostle in the church of St. Esya, instead of holding their rituals - as they did in past years – in the church of St. Thomas the Apostle in the city of Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain), as it is currently under the control of the Turkish forces and their armed groups.
Father Michael Yaqoub, the priest of the two churches of St. Thomas the Apostle in Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) and St. Esya in Derbasiya, held a special prayer for the celebration of Thomas the Apostle.
“There are only four Christian families left in Ras al-Ain, and the situation does not allow us to go and hold prayers,” Father Yaqoub told North Press.
“I was holding prayers continuously for five and a half years until the last Turkish invasion of the city.”
Elizabeth Melky, one of the parishioners of the two churches, expressed her dissatisfaction over her inability to visit the church in Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain).
“This is the first holiday that we cannot attend the church of Thomas the Apostle, and we feel sad for this,” Melky told North Press.
“We were present every year in the city of Ras al-Ain to celebrate the feast of the saint. The church parish held the last prayer in the city three days before the Turkish invasion,” she added.
Turkish forces and armed opposition groups took over the cities of Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tel Abyad (Gre Spi) last year after they invaded in October 2019. Local and international organizations accuse them of violations and widespread crimes against civilians.
(Reporting by Reem Chamoun and Charbel Henno, editing by Lucas Chapman)