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February 2016 – recent articles

Thanks for visiting my website. Here are some recent articles I’ve been working on:


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Turkey protective of ethnic Turkmens in Syria

Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 17:35 Updated: Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 19:55
Stephen Starr in Istanbul
Syrian Turkmens protest at Russian military intervention: their identity is closer to Ottoman Turkey than Syria’s official Arabism. Photograph: Basin Foto Ajansi/Lightrocket/ Getty ImagesSyrian Turkmens protest at Russian military intervention: their identity is closer to Ottoman Turkey than Syria’s official Arabism. Photograph: Basin Foto Ajansi/Lightrocket/ Getty Images

When Russian warplanes began bombing rebel-controlled villages in northwest Syria late last year reverberations were heard all the way to Ankara.

In that tiny corner of Syria close to the Turkish border are people for whom history has passed: ethnic Turkmens whose ancestors lived in modern-day Syria for almost a 1,000 years. Read on here.

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Two lonely deaths in the Mideast’s forgotten war

Turkey’s battle with Kurdish militants is worsening, with a grandfather and his 3-month-old granddaughter among the dead.

A woman complains inside her bullet-shattered house in Nusaybin, Turkey, on Dec. 25, 2015. Tens of thousands of civilians in southeast Turkey have been caught in the middle as government forces and Kurdish militants battle it out.

MURAT BAY / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A woman complains inside her bullet-shattered house in Nusaybin, Turkey, on Dec. 25, 2015. Tens of thousands of civilians in southeast Turkey have been caught in the middle as government forces and Kurdish militants battle it out.

By: Stephen Starr Special to the Star, Published on Mon Jan 11 2016

NUSAYBIN, TURKEY—Three-month-old Miray Ince was in her mother’s arms, returning from a Christmas Day visit to relatives in a neighbouring apartment. Gunshots suddenly rang out — and a stray bullet passed through the infant’s cheek, causing a fatal wound.

Ramazan Ince and his elderly wife responded by ferrying their dying granddaughter outside to an ambulance. They waved a white flag to signal they were no threat, but they, too, were shot in the street.

“They thought the (Turkish) security forces wouldn’t target the elderly,” said the dead girl’s father Burhan Ince.

Ramazan died of his wounds the next morning. His wife was taken into intensive care but was later released.

The devastation in Syria and the international campaign against the Islamic State grouphave drowned out one of the Middle East’s most intractable struggles: Turkey’s war with Kurdish militants. Read on here.

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Bleak Christmas for Christian Syrians in historic Turkish town

Many Syriac refugees in Mardin chose to live outside Christian camps due to jihadist fears

Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 18:40
Stephen Starr in Mardin
A small congregation and priest pray at the Syriac Orthodox monastery in Mardin, Turkey. Photograph: Tarik Tinazay/AFP/Getty

The sound of spoken Arabic rings out in the December morning air along the narrow alley behind Mardin’s Saint Shmuni Church. In a quaint home, metres from the church, two families of Assyrian Christians from Syria lay out matter-of-factly how their lives have fallen apart over the past four years.

“Myriam”, from Hassakeh in northeast Syria, moved to the ancient town of Mardin in south Turkey six years before the outbreak of revolt in 2011. A Syriac Orthodox Christian, she says all her family members remain in Hassakeh, where the kidnapping of well-to-do Christians has become commonplace. Read on here.

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