Syria’s Assyrians, caught in the middle

Middle East Forum: Of all the Christian communities in Syria, the Assyrians, that is, those Christians who identify as such by virtue of belonging to the Assyrian Church of the East, arguably have the most complex relationship with the Assad regime. Assyrians are concentrated in the northeast around Hasakeh, with others settled in Damascus and Aleppo. As was the case in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a problem for Syria’s Assyrian community has been the traditional denial of the Assyrian identity by the pan-Arab Baathist ideology. This has culminated in the destruction of numerous Assyrian villages in the north of Iraq as part of Saddam’ss Arabization program.