Erdogan vows to protect Christians in Syria, says their churches will be rebuilt

Turkey President Tayyip Recep Erdogan told media at the White House Wednesday that Turkey will restore damaged Syrian churches as Christian communities along the border in Northeastern Syria are feeling vulnerable due to the Turkish incursion.

Erdogan met with United States President Donald Trump and a group of GOP senators on Thursday in a widely publicized meeting that was reportedly held to “clear the air” amid congressional criticism of Turkey’s military operation in Northeastern Syria.

Operation Peace Spring, launched last month after Trump announced a pullback of U.S. troops from the region in question, targets Kurdish fighters once backed by the U.S. in the battle against the Islamic State. The Turkish government accused the Turkish-led Syrian Democratic Forces of being terrorists because of links to Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the P.K.K.

Since the operation commenced, tens of thousands Syrians have been displaced from their homes and Turkish-backed Arab forces have been accused of targeting civilians.

During a press conference at the White House, Erdogan was asked specifically by a reporter if he could guarantee that Turkey will protect Christians in Northeast Syria amid this “realignment.”