Tel Fayda in the Khabur sits largely empty but the few residents who remain have welcomed Syrians displaced by Turkey’s 2019 invasion of North and East Syria

TEL TAMR, Syria — Once the scene of humble pastoral life, the Syriac–Assyrian village of Tel Fayda in the Khabur River Valley in North and East Syria is a ghost of its former self. The prominent Church of St. Kyriakos is the village’s most prominent feature, hosting religious rites and rituals from the surrounding area. It now sits closed.

Only one parishioner, an elder woman who remained in the village with several others despite its precarious existence, visits the church. She walks to the church daily to ensure it remains clean for the day on which its pews are again filled with the faithful. For now, though, it waits.

With the start of the Turkish invasion of North and East Syria in October 2019, the Syriac–Assyrian villages of the Khabur have become a haven for displaced people fleeing from the brutality of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA). One displaced Arab woman currently residing in Tal Fayda told a local SyriacPress correspondent  that they were keen to pay attention to the Christian religious monuments in the village, noting that the church is a sacred place for them like the mosque.

The woman spoke about their suffering from displacement due to violent escalations in their areas and about the warm reception they received by what remains of the people of Tel Fayda.

She intends to help preserve the village’s church, she said, and will not allow anyone to vandalize it. The woman closed her conversation with our correspondent with a message she wanted to convey to the whole world: The Khabur River Valley is, and will remain, a place of religious harmony.