Turkish authorities construct sewage system in Syriac village of Beth Nahle (Anhel)

BETH NAHLE (ANHEL), Tur’ Abdin / Turkey – The village of Anhel in southeastern Turkey has a first. Turkish regional authorities of Mardin province have started construction of a sewerage system in the largest Syriac village in the Midyat district, Syriac member of the Turkish parliament, Tuma Çelik, reports on his Twitter page. Çelik was born and raised in Anhel.

The name Anhel comes from the Syriac ‘Beth Nahle’ meaning ‘in between the valleys’. The village has known several names over the centuries: Beth Nahle, An Nahal, Deburitho, Anşil, Anhel, and Enhil. Southeast of Anhel is Turo Izlo (mentioned in the Bible, see Ezekiel 27:19), to the east is Mount Qardū (Turkish: Cudi Dağı), to the north are the hills of Kfar Boran, and to the west is Mardin. Anhel is located between the district capital Midyat and Nusaybin and 30 kilometers from Beth Zalin (Qamishli), founded by Syriacs, in Syria.

The village has ten churches, some of which have fallen into ruins. It is not known exactly how old Anhel is, but it is clear it dates from before the beginning of our common era.

According to the rite books of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the village there were 68 Syriac family homoes in 1526, 108 in 1570, and 81 in 1870. The village escaped massacre during the Sayfo Genocide of 1915, although many died of starvation and disease afterwards. After the Sayfo, many families fled to Syria. In 1960 there were 259 Syriac family homes and 30 Kurdish homes. The Syriac exodus to Europe and the West began in the 1970s. In 1992 there were 40 permanent families left. This number shrunk further during the 1990s and 2000s to about 10.

But there is hope. The Anhel diaspora, more than 2000 families, has built and renovated many new homes in the village over the past decade. The new sewer system is connected to these homes. Several dozen Syriacs have returned, temporarily or permanently. Anhel is one of the bright rays of hope and courage for a continued Syriac presence in their ancient homeland of Tur ‘Abdin.