US Commission on International Religious Freedom flags 17 nations for religious freedom violations, including Syria

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its most recent report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has identified 17 countries, including Syria, as being at risk of violating international religious freedom. Additionally, the commission placed 11 countries on a special watch list for ongoing concerns.

This report, crucial for informing the US State Department’s foreign policies and strategies, also holds significant importance for the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) communities. The inclusion of Syria on the special watch list is attributed to the country becoming a hotspot for violations against religious minorities.

The report names various institutions, officials, forces, and groups in Syria that face sanctions for their infringements on religious freedom. It highlights improvements in religious freedom in areas controlled by the Autonomous Administration. However, it notes that the majority of violations occur in regions under the control of the Syrian regime and territories occupied by Turkey and its affiliates, such as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

Detailing 13 years of the Syrian conflict, the report covers the aftermath of last year’s earthquakes, the Druze struggles in As-Suwayda, attacks on Christians and Jews in Hemto (Hama), and the efforts of the Syrian Democratic Forces to liberate Yezidis from Islamic State (ISIS). It also emphasizes the threats posed by Turkey and its mercenaries to religious freedom in North and East Syria, including attacks on minorities, cemeteries, and heritage sites.

In conclusion, the USCIRF urges Washington to impose measures and sanctions on Syrian regime officials and those involved in violence against minorities. It also calls for continued support for the Democratic Autonomous Administration of the Region of North and East Syria, advocating for a political solution to the Syrian conflict and promoting religious freedom in North and East Syria.