Syriac Christians from Turkey and Syria attend a mass at the Mort Shmuni Syriac Orthodox Church in the town of Midyat, in Mardin province of southeast Turkey in this February 2, 2014. (REUTERS/Umit Bektas)
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When Louis Bandak fled the violence in Syria, he sought refuge in the country his grandfather was forced to abandon exactly 90 years ago this week.Bandak, his wife and two daughters are part of a small but growing trickle of Christians arriving in Turkey after three years of civil war in Syria has killed more than 140,000 people. Bandak is Syriac, a people who number about 180,000 in Syria and survive in pockets of Iraq, Iran and Turkey.Christians are exiting through Turkey because its border with Europe offers a better chance of eventual asylum there, says Sait Susin, chairman of the Syriac Orthodox Foundation in Istanbul, which relies on donations from the local community to house and feed 500 of its Syrian brethren at a time. He estimates more than 5,000 Syriacs have passed through Turkey, but the precise number is unknown because most arrive informally and spend anywhere from 10 days to more than a year before moving on.
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