The christian minority of Syria accounts for about 10% of the country's population. With the Syrian conflict running its 3rd year and with radical Islamic groups gaining power and influence, many christians choose to leave from areas that are under the control of the Islamists and seek refuge in government held areas or in Europe.

In the province of Al Hasakeh in Northern Syria the christian minority chose to remain, despite the fact that the government withdrew the majority of its forces and work alongside the Kurds, who constitute the majority ethnic group of the area, in fighting the Islamists.

With many members of the community leaving for Europe, in search of safety and a better life, the ones who remain are forming their own militias and are preparing for the worst.

Al Hasakah Province - Syria / 25 November 2013

The province of Al Hasakah in Northern Syria accounts for 60 % of the oil production of the country. It is also the only area in the country where the Christian minority chose to remain, despite the fact that the government withdrew the majority of its forces giving control to the Kurds who consist the majority group of the area.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 26 November 2013:

Under the growing thread of an islamic uprising, that is becoming more radicalized with each passing day, many christians choose to flee from Syria to Europe. The ones that remain in the country are preparing for the worst by arming themselves and forming their own militias.

Abid Abraham (left) used to work as a petroleum engineer in Deir al-Zor. Last year he had to flee with his family after he started receiving anonymous phone calls threatening his life. Now he volunteers in a christian militia, along with 140 other community members, manning checkpoints on the outskirts of Al Malikiyah.

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Ras al Ain - Syria /  21 November 2013:

Ras al Ain used to be under the control of the Islamists until the Kurdish YPG - People's Protection Units took control of the town in July 2013. Once a thriving community of 200 christian families lived in the town. Now only 35 families remain.

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Ras al Ain - Syria /  21 November 2013:

Mahjaob Abdul Ahad is one of the few Christians that chose to remain in Ras al Ain. He remembers of a time before the war when Christians, Muslims and Kurds lived in peace and hopes that things will go back to how they used to be.

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Ras al Ain - Syria /  21 November 2013:

The bullet riddled door of the Mar Tuma (St. Thomas) church in Ras ai Ain. The church was damaged by Islamic insurgents when they took control of the town from Government forces. Before they abandoned the town in July 2013 they ransacked the church.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 18 November 2013:

A funeral procession in Al Malikiyah / Derik. The majority of the Christian community in the area is Syriac Orthodox with smaller no's of Catholics, Armenians and Protestants. Christians, Kurds and Arabs seem to coexist peacefully but suspicion is always present among them. Years of repressive policies and favoritism by the government towards one group or another have left their mark.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 25 November 2013:

Father Murat is the head of the Syriac Orthodox church in the town of Al Malikiyah / Derik. Like many members of his community he believes that the army withdrawal from the area and the newly formed Kurdish Autonomous Administration are temporary measures and that the Syrian government will return to the area.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 18 November 2013:

A funeral procession in Al Malikiyah / Derik. The majority of the Christian community in the area is Syriac Orthodox with smaller no's of Catholics, Armenians and Protestants. Christians, Kurds and Arabs seem to coexist peacefully but suspicion is always present among them. Years of repressive policies and favoritism by the government towards one group or another have left their mark.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 18 November 2013:

A funeral in the christian cemetery of Al Malikiyah / Derik. The majority of the Christian community in the area is Syriac Orthodox with smaller no's of Catholics, Armenians and Protestants. With many of its members leaving for Europe because of the war, the christian community in Al Hasakah Province is growing smaller with alarming rates.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 18 November 2013:

A funeral in the christian cemetery of Al Malikiyah / Derik. The majority of the Christian community in the area is Syriac Orthodox with smaller no's of Catholics, Armenians and Protestants. With many of its members leaving for Europe because of the war, the christian community in Al Hasakah Province is becoming smaller with alarming rates.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 25 November 2013:

Afram Danho volunteers 4 times a month with one of the Christian militias that started forming all across Al Hasakah Provine. Some of the militia members are also part of the Sutoro, a Christian Assyrian/Syriac militia which is the armed wing of the Syriac Union Party. Some of the Sutoro members are suspected to be former shabiha and state collaborators still having ties with the Government security forces.

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Ras al Ain - Syria /  21 November 2013:

A mural depicting the Madonna inside the church of Mar Tuma (St. Thomas) in Ras Al Ain.

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Al Hasakah Province - Syria / 26 November 2013:

Near the Syrian - Turkish border.

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Prke (Christian Village near Al Malikiyah) / 23 November 2013:

Adib Abrahim Hanna reading an old Syriac Bible inside the Church of the Madonna near the christian village of Prke. Abid misses the stability and security that the Government provided before the war and believes that the Syrian Army will return after the Islamists are defeated.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 23 November 2013:

Young women walking in the market of Al Malikiyah/ Derik. Under the control of the YPG (Peoples Protection Units) the town has a seizable Christian community that chose to remain despite the fact that the government withdrew the majority of its forces giving control to the Kurds who consist the majority group of the area.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 26 November 2013:

View of the market in Al Malikiyah. Christians, Kurds and Arabs seem to coexist peacefully but suspicion is always present among them. Years of repressive policies and favoritism by the government towards one group or another have left their mark.

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Ras al Ain - Syria /  21 November 2013:

Mahmud, a Muslim Arab living in Ras al Ain, fixing the broken windows of the Mar Tuma (St. Thomas) church in Ras al Ain. The church was damaged by Islamists when they took control of the town from Government forces. Before they abandoned the town in July 2013 they ransacked the church.

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Prke (Christian village 10k from Al Malikiyah) - Syria / 23 November 2012:

Naim Hanna a Christian cotton farmer smokes a cigarette outside his house.

His family is one of the 10 families (out of 35), that remained in the village. The rest fled the village fearing the Islamists that are trying to take control of the area.

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Ras al Ain - Syria / 21 November 2013:

A young boy running outside an abandoned Syriac Orthodox church in Ras Al Ain. Most of the Christians who used to live there left when the Islamists took control of the town. When the Kurdish YPG - People's Protection Units retook control of the town some of the christian families returned.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 25 November 2013:

Afram Danho volunteers 4 times a month with one of the Christian militias that started forming all across Al Hasakah Provine. Some of the militia members are also part of the Sutoro, a Christian Assyrian/Syriac militia which is the armed wing of the Syriac Union Party. Some of the Sutoro members are suspected to be former shabiha and state collaborators still having ties with the Government security forces.

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En route from Ras al Ain to Al Malikiyah - Syria /  21 November 2013:

View of cotton fields in Al Hasakah Province. The cotton production in the area is suffering due to a blockade by Islamists who are trying to take control of the area from the Kurdish YPG - People's Protection Units.

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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 25 November 2013:

Afram Danho volunteers 4 times a month with one of the Christian militias that started forming all across Al Hasakah Provine. Some of the militia members are also part of the Sutoro, a Christian Assyrian/Syriac militia which is the armed wing of the Syriac Union Party. Some of the Sutoro members are suspected to be former shabiha and state collaborators still having ties with the Government security forces.

info
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Al Malikiyah - Syria / 26 November 2013:

Under the growing thread of an islamic uprising, that is becoming more radicalized with each passing day, many christians choose to flee from Syria to Europe. The ones that remain in the country are preparing for the worst by arming themselves and forming their own militias.

Abid Abraham (left) used to work as a petroleum engineer in Deir al-Zor. Last year he had to flee with his family after he started receiving anonymous phone calls threatening his life. Now he volunteers in a christian militia, along with 140 other community members, manning checkpoints on the outskirts of Al Malikiyah.

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Ras al Ain - Syria /  21 November 2013:

Mahjaob Abdul Ahad, one of the few Christians that chose to remain in Ras al Ain, walking past a bullet riddled wall in the Mar Tuma (St. Thomas) church in Ras ai Ain. The church was damaged by Islamists when they took control of the town from Government forces. Before they abandoned the town in July 2013 they ransacked the church.

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