On Friday, March 21, 2014, armed rebels associated with Al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front, Sham al-Islam, and Ansar al-Sham crossed the Turkish border into Syria and attacked the Armenian-populated town of Kessab. Snipers targeted the civilian population and launched mortar attacks on the town and the surrounding villages. Many of the citizens of Kessab evacuated and were forced to flee to neighboring areas, such as Latakia and Basit. Unfortunately, not all families were able to do so and were left behind. The Syrian troops tried to launch a counteroffensive on Saturday. However, on Sunday, the rebels once again proceeded into Kessab and took the remaining families hostage, desecrated the town’s Armenian churches, pillaged local residencies, and occupied the town and surrounding villages. Eighty lives have been taken thus far. Most recently, many of the residences have been looted. Please consult the following links for more information and first-person accounts of these tragedies:
Aside from the violence in Kessab, the Zvartnots Armenian Catholic Church in Aleppo was bombed yesterday afternoon. The church and neighboring residential buildings were damaged. There were no confirmed fatalities, though 4 people were injured.
The AYF-YOARF Eastern Region is appalled and mortified at the violence committed against innocent citizens living in these towns and in others in Syria. Although we do not have the means to assist Syrians on their grounds, we must do all we can in order to support them and urge others to do the same. These are some ways we can help:
1. Sign the ANCA Action Alert, found at http://www.anca.org/action_alerts/action_disp.php?aaid=63156801. This letter will be sent to your representatives as well as to President Obama himself, urging the United States government to put pressure on Turkey to stop facilitating these attacks and supporting al-Qaeda affiliated forces. Turkey is considered a U.S. ally, and it is very important that the U.S. step up against these acts committed against human rights.
2. Donate to the Armenian Relief Society here: http://arseastusa.org/donate/. Click on the specific link “Fund for Syrian Armenians.” Our own ARS Eastern Region has greatly supported the international organization, which is able to provide firsthand assistance to Armenians in these war-torn areas. Please donate to the fund, both on an individual and chapter level.
We thank you for your urgent attention in this matter as we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Kessab and other areas of Syria.
Ungeragan Cherm Parevnerov,
AYF-YOARF Central Executive, Eastern Region