Thousands of Christians have been forced out of the Hasaka province in Syria this Christmas.
Syria's Christian population was about 2.2 million, or 10 percent of Syria's population. Many fled their homes because of fear of persecution for allegedly supporting the Syrian government.
The Christians say they do not support the government.
"We used to have big Christmas celebrations here and now look at the streets," said a resident named George. "What is there to celebrate? I can't and won't leave my home."
The Syriac Union Party has created a Christian militia to support and to protect the Christians still in the area. The militia, called Sutoro, formed in 2013.
"We are protecting what has been ours for hundreds of years," said Aboud, who only gave his first name to reporters. "We are the original owners of the land."
Said Ashur Abu Sarkun, general commander of Sutoro: "It's very connected to the land. People don't want Christians around ... We welcome an autonomous region where Christians make decisions with the Kurds and Arabs."
Publication date: December 22, 2014
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.