According to several sources, we learn that the Syrian army would enter Kessab and would have defeated the jihadists from Tchalma. It would continue its advance towards Al-Samraa having also taken Nabain. Information to take precautions, not having confirmation of news agencies.
Jihadist attack on Latakia raises fear of deeper sectarian warfare
Rebel fighters pray at the beach of al-Samra in Latakia province, near the town of Kassab, March 31, 2014. (photo by REUTERS)
The shock came when a new front opened in Kassab in rural Latakia province, a stronghold of the Syrian regime largely composed of Alawites. Kassab itself was a predominantly Armenian resort town, and fear spread that the extremist Islamist factions that stormed the town might perpetrate genocide against the inhabitants. This fear was not entirely unfounded, as such violence would have been a repeat of the war crimes perpetrated the last time rebels launched an offensive into rural Latakia in August 2013, according to Human Rights Watch.
Importantly, the Syrian regime accuses Turkey of providing the logistical and military support the rebels need to take over the area. This fresh offensive raises already strained sectarian tensions in the country to a dangerous breaking point, as the city of Latakia has become home to hundreds of thousands of displaced Sunnis, especially from Aleppo, joining its native inhabitants of mixed Sunnis, Alawites and Christians. The danger is being taken seriously by both the regime, which has sent reinforcements of its best units to the area, and members of the opposition, with Michel Kilo condemning the Kassab offensive and ringing alarm bells.
Syrian National Coalition head Ahmad Jarba visited the front lines to maintain the appearance of relevance and to reiterate that the goal of the rebels was not ethnic cleansing, but rather fighting the regime. Such words would undoubtedly sound hollow to local residents, who heard much the same when Gen. Salim Idriss of the Free Syrian Army visited the Latakia front lines last August with the same message. Soon after, heinous massacres were committed against the Alawite community.
Latakia is a tinderbox, and the perils there are real and should not be understated. All-out sectarian warfare, ethnic cleansing and disintegration of the Syrian nation into sectarian enclaves are all real possibilities now. Such scenarios might actually be the purpose of some of the radical Islamist groups spearheading the current assault. They realize they cannot win the war and control the country outright, so the next best thing is to carve for themselves a Sunni state from the carcass of a dying country.
Inciting genocide would be the best way of achieving that result. Whether the regional and global powers backing these militants, or indeed the Syrian opposition, are aware of such plans is unclear. But if not, one has to wonder about the strategic rationale justifying such a large-scale military offensive into a sensitive area. Another equally important question is whether the recent direct Turkish involvement in the Syrian conflict was simply a ploy by the Turkish prime minister ahead of local elections, or heralded the beginning of a new phase in which Turkey became actively embroiled in its neighbor’s war.
Another front that has heated up, although perhaps for different reasons, is Aleppo. After a succession of rapid military gains by regime and loyalist forces in and around the city, their campaign seemed to be stalled as resurgent Islamist rebel forces began their own offensive in late March.
After the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) withdrew from most of Aleppo province, consolidated its hold in al-Raqqa and concentrated its military effort into fighting the Kurds in Hasakah, the rebel groups in Aleppo were given a reprieve and a chance to regroup. This lifting of ISIS pressure culminated in an unprecedented assault on the northwestern entrance to the regime-held part of Aleppo, dominated by the infamous and powerful air force intelligence headquarters in the al-Zahra neighborhood. The fighting has been fierce and intense, with the sounds of explosions, rockets and missiles piercing the quiet spring nights, while the mostly Islamist rebels took over strategic buildings in the nearby Layramoun area. In the last couple of days, the rebels have also attacked in the northeast — at the Damascus highway — with their sights fixed on the large military academy that dominates that area. The attacks on the two fronts appear to be coordinated to pressure the regime in its most important bases and cut off the only lifeline to the west of the city via the Khanaser military road.
Needless to say, the flare-up in violence has taken a terrible toll on the city’s civilian population, with both sides lobbing shells, missiles and rockets in blatant disregard for civilian lives and casualties. Meanwhile, activists have launched an online campaign called “#SaveAleppo,” which has drawn considerable attention, mimicking the earlier “#SaveKassab” campaign by the Armenian diaspora. The Aleppo campaign aims to draw attention to the terrible carnage and destruction caused by the regime’s use of barrel bombs, which a March 24 Human Rights Watch report describes in horrific detail. Although paling in comparison, the rebel strikes on regime-held west Aleppo have also resulted in a high number of casualties. The past 10 days have been particularly intense, with an average of 20 shells and missiles falling across most neighborhoods daily, killing and wounding dozens. On March 7 alone, rebel shelling on the Hamdanieh area killed 11 and wounded over 30, while on March 6, a shell fell on a relief agency center brimming with people, but failed to explode.
Once again, Aleppo seems stuck in this bewildering and horrendous paradox where each side targets civilians across the divide in tit-for-tat retaliation. The ones dying by the hundreds are all innocent. We, the residents of this godforsaken city, are paying the ultimate price for this futile madness.
All in all, it appears that the Syrian conflict is destined to remain in a bloody deadlock, just as that very stalemate spirals the country dangerously down the path of open sectarian violence. Right now, Syria is at one of the most volatile and dangerous stages in its bloody conflict, and a shift into genocidal free fall is a real possibility.
Edward Dark (a pseudonym) is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Syria Pulse living in Aleppo. On Twitter: @edwardedark
European Parliament condemns Kessab attack
April 18, 2014 – 13:04 AMT
European Parliament, in its last plenary session on Thursday, April 17 ahead of the May elections, adopted a resolution on Syria, expressing its concern over the latest developments in the country, especially with the situation in Kessab, and vulnerable communities who find themselves in the middle of the war.
The resolution specifically condemns the attack against the Armenian town of Kessab, and takes note that “the fights between regime forces and rebel fighters, including elements linked to Al-Qaeda, at the end of March 2014 led to the evacuation of the vast majority of the population of Kassab, an Armenian town on the Syrian-Turkish border.”
The resolution also takes note of the rich diversity of ethnic and religious communities, stressing that these communities have always been part of Syrian society, and have an important role to play in the democratization of Syria and need to be represented in any consultation on the country’s future and in any reconciliation process; and that these communities had tried to avoid taking sides in the conflict, and as many may recognize the need for a change of regime in Syria, but also fear that, if the government is overthrown, they will be targeted by Sunni jihadist rebels calling for the establishment of an Islamic state. The European Parliament is also worried with the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front capturing a number of Christian and Kurdish villages on the Turkish border.
Bastiaan Belder (Europe of Freedom and Democracy, the Netherlands) stressed that the resolution will not be full, unless it mentions the whole truth about Kessab, about Turkish involvement once again, after the Armenian Genocide, in depopulating the Armenians of the region. Member of the European Parliament Belder also noted that there must be an investigation on Turkey’s role in the attack against Kessab, which is a continuation of Ankara’s disastrous Middle East policy. Veronique De Keyser (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, vice-chair, Belgium) condemned the displacement of Armenians from Kessab by terrorist groups.
Joaquin Almunia, Vice-president of the EU Commission, is troubled with the jihadist attack on Kessab and the extremely violent civil war in Syria, stressing that the EU will be helping the vulnerable groups and those displaced in the three years of the Syrian conflict.
Kaspar Karampetian, President of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (ANC of Europe) stressed that the resolution has been soft on Turkey, which opened its borders with Kessab assisting the jihadists to attack the region, but nevertheless, puts the blame on Turkey for the border attacks on Christian and Kurdish cities and hindering humanitarian aid. “Turkey is guilty of assisting the extremists in driving out the peaceful population at the border with Syria,” said Kaspar Karampetian. “Armenians are thankful to the Syrian people for sheltering us after the Genocide committed by Turkey 99 years ago, and we sympathize with them for the terrible violence in the country these days. We hope for an end soon, and that all communities are part of Syria and must be included in re-building the country with no outside interference,” said Karampetian, and concluded that the EAFJD is committed in assisting the Armenian community of Syria with humanitarian aid from Europe.
Cyprus House Speaker addresses int’l community over Kessab
The President of the House of Representatives of Cyprus, Yiannakis Omirou sent a message to the Presidents of European Parliament, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, Euro – Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly and to the President and Secretary General of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy regarding recent events in Kessab region on the northwestern borderline of Syria with Turkey.
According to an official press release the message was sent following relevant consultation with the Parliamentary Representative of the Armenian community in Cyprus, Vartkes Mahdessian, Famagusta Gazette reports.
In his message, Omitou refers to the attacks against civilians of Armenian origin in Kessab and destruction of religious sites and monuments, as well as property looting by extremist groups based in Turkey.
Omirou underlines that such attacks against civilians and ethnic and religious groups undermine international efforts to end ongoing violence and achieve a peaceful settlement in Syria and calls on the recipients of his message to exercise their influence on Turkey in order to put an end to such kind of attacks from its territory.
He also underlines that all sides should make every effort so that the Armenians of Kessab return as soon as possible to their homes in conditions of stability and security, according to the report.
Iran, Isfahan youth protests in support of Kesab Armenians
The Armenian youth of Isfahan (Iran) on Tuesday held a protest to express support to the Armenians of Kessab, the Syrian border town that was targeted by Islamist militants in late March.
The crowd also condemned Turkey for provoking violence against the town’s civilians.
They voiced appeals in Persian and Armenian to awaken memories of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey.
“Turkey’s atrocity is condemnable,” a slogan on one of the banners read.
The militant attacks against Kessab, a north-western Syrian border town predominantly populated by Armenians, forced around 600 families to flee homes and find shelter in the port city of Latakia. Around 23 civilians were moved to Turkey by armed rebels.
Turkish gov. holding Kessab Armenian until after April 24. to use them for propaganda
Reports about killing of young Kessab Armenian confirmed
The reports about the killing of 23-year-old Kessab Armenian Kevork Jourian by rebels have been confirmed.
Deputy chairman of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (SDHP) Armenia office, Syrian Armenian Vazgen Mesropyan told Panorama.am that he was informed about it by a source in Vakif village of Turkey. Kevork Jourian’s father is in Vakif along with other elderly Armenians from Kessab, he said.
According to Mesropyan, the rebels took him for a Syrian army soldier and killed him.
19 Kessab Armenians and 2 Aleppo Armenians are being held in the Armenian church of Vakif. Negotiations are underway to take them out of Turkey’s territory, he said.
“The Turkish government said that they will not allow to take them out until after April 24. Their goal is to show the world that they assist Armenians,” Mesropyan said.
He also said that of 7 missing Armenians of Kessab, 3 have been found. Their names are Tsovig Manjigian, Sam Poladian and Luder Trtrian. These elderly people did not want to leave their homes.
Turkey ‘aided Islamist fighters’ in attack on Syrian Armenian town kessab: report Telegraph
By Ruth Sherlock, Beirut 14 Apr 201
Telegraph facilitated an attack carried out by Islamist fighters against the Armenian town of Kasab inside Syria, eyewitnesses have told the Telegraph.
According to the report, in an operation that was months in the planning, the Turkish authorities gave rebel groups the mandate they needed to attack, allowing them access through a heavily militarized Turkish border post, whose location was strategically vital to the success of the assault.
“Turkey did us a big favor,” said a Syrian activist with the rebel group said. “They allowed our guys to enter from their border post. “We needed to hit the regime from different sides and this was the only way from near the coast, so it was a big help.”
Kasab is the ancestral home of the Armenian ethnic minority in Syria, and had remained relatively sheltered from the conflict in Syria.
Residents were woken on the morning of the attack, on March 21, to screams and cries.
“We woke to the sounds of the shelling. There was no time even to get dressed,” remembered Bedros, 45, an Armenian resident who asked not to be identified by his real name. “I grabbed my wife and my children. We had no time to take our things. Some people fled in their night gowns.”
Two days later Kasab was in the hands of an alliance of Islamist groups, including the jihadist Jabhat al-Nusra, aligned with al-Qaeda. Almost all of the village’s approximately 2,000 inhabitants had fled.
On the night of the attack, a relative of Bedros had gone to one of the main border posts with Turkey, which is only lightly armed with Syrian troops, reportedly because of an agreement signed decades before the war.
“By the time he arrived the attack had begun. He saw the Islamist fighters standing with the Turkish army. They started launching their shells from the border,” he said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has issued a statement stating that the claims that the government aided the opposition in the attack are “totally unfounded and untrue.”
Syria: Young Kessab Armenian Killed by Rebels
The Yerevan-based CivilNet is reporting that it has learned from several reliable sources that 23-year-old Kevork Jourian, son of Babken and Nvard Jourian, was killed by members of Syrian rebel groups, as they were searching for guns among the Armenians who remained behind after the March 21 attack on Kessab. Sources explained that this happened in Kessab as the group of mostly elderly were being evacuated to Vakifli, Turkey.
The attack on Kessab has resulted in the displacement of more than 600 families. All have been accounted for except 10 individuals who remain missing, one of whom was Jourian. His parents, uncles and grandmother are in the group of 21 taken to Vakifli.
The Vakifli community representatives have appealed to the Turkish authorities to undertake efforts to identify and liberate the remaining missing, believe to be in the custody of the same Syrian rebel groups.
Kessabtsis by Name: Taken to Vakif or Still Missing
On March 21, armed rebel groups attacked Kessab after crossing the border from Turkey. As a result, over 600 Armenian families had to leave their homes the same day and took refuge at the Armenian church in Latakia, which is 65 km (45 miles) to the south of Kessab. However, nearly 40, mostly elderly, were left behind in Kessab and there was no news from them during the first week. Soon after, the Titizian sisters from Kessab were brought to the Turkish border, after which they were cared for at the Armenian Church in Vakifli, the last remaining Armenian village in Turkey.
After the TItizian sisters, a new group of Armenians reached Vakifli last week, comprised of 19 people, mostly elderly. Saghatel Basil met them and talked to CivilNet about how they arrived from Kessab to Turkey. According to the testimony of the elderly, they were brought to the Armenian catholic monastery in the center of Kessab to say a last prayer, where they were also filmed and later sent with buses to the Turkish border. The rebel groups confiscated their identity cards and passports, and only some of them (the women) were able to get their documents back.
According to CivilNet sources, the names of the 21 elderly people taken to Vakifli are the following:
Hagop Sianos Djurian (70-72 years old)
Asbed Sianos Djurian (60-65 years old)
Papken Sianos Djurian (60-65 years old)
Nvart Guzelian (Papken’s wife, 40-45 years old)
Karun Titizian-Djurian (nearly 90 years old, their mother)
Yessayi Aintablian (75 years old)
Hasmik Darus (his wife, 57 years old)
Silva Aintablian (his sister, 57-58 years old)
Ani Aintablian (his daughter, 31 years old)
Hagop Giragosian (85 years old)
Vazken Giragosian (80 years old)
Zaven Hovsepian (over 80 years old)
Movses Yervant Arabian (nearly 75 years old)
Marta Yervant Arabian (nearly 85 years old)
Karun Der Sahagian-Keoshgerian (90 years old)
Srpuhi Yaralian-Titizian (86 years old)
Satenig Titizian (85 years old)
Nerses Tangugian (from Aleppo, over 80 years old)
Anais Aharonian-Ekmekdjian (from Aleppo, Nerses Tangugian’s caretaker)
There are also a number of people missing, from whom there has been no news since March 21. Istanbul Armenian journalist Aris Nalci reports the names of the ten Kessab Armenians that are still missing:
Musa Sahagian’s sister – name unknown
Armenian-Americans blame Turkey for Kassab invasion
By Pinar Tremblay,
On March 30, Kim Kardashian, an American television personality of Armenian descent, posted two tweets with the hashtag #SaveKessab, which was retweeted over 6,000 times and generated dozens of articles in the English-language press. Another Twitter user commented, “Kim Kardashian is tweeting about #Kassab. [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is in trouble now.”
Kardashian’s Kassab tweets were followed by other celebrities, such as the Armenian-American singer Cher. Regardless of how controversial these messages are, we must acknowledge they have reached millions who would otherwise be clueless about the historic Armenian coastal town of Kassab. Located in the northwest of Syria’s beautiful Latakia region, Kassab is a tourist desination situated near the Turkish border
Kassab has seen significant immigration from other towns with large Armenian populations, such as Aleppo and Homs, since the start of Syrian civil war in March 2011. Though comprising only 1% of the Syrian population, Armenians are Syria’s seventh-largest ethnic group. The fall of Kassab could be costly for Turkey.
The Armenian diaspora has launched several protest movements all around the world. On March 27, a protest was held in the Armenian city of Yerevan. On March 28, hundreds gathered in front of the Turkish consulate in Los Angeles with “Save Kassab” signs. Harut Sassounian, publisher of the California Courier, told Al-Monitor he was present at the protest. Sassounian added, “I hold the United States, United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar fully responsible for the atrocities committed against Christians and Armenians in Syria, because they are the ones training, arming and supporting the so-called rebels. The civilized world must reject the murderers who are masquerading under the guise of regime change to impose their radical rule in Syria. The Syrian people deserve a democratic government. However, I fear that the foreign fighters who have infiltrated Syria are far more brutal than the Assad regime. I believe that regime change should come through peaceful negotiations, not beheadings and suicide bombings.”
Several other protests took place in front of Turkish embassies and consulates from Moscow to Beirut. Yeni Safak covered protests in Sydney, Australia, reporting, “Turks gave an answer to the Armenians.” The news suggested that as the group gathered in front of the consulate with chants of “Turkey get out of Kassab,” it was met by another group of protesters with Turkish flags in their hands. It is a fair, yet sad, observation that the diverse and quaint town of Kassab has brought up centuries-old enmities thousands of miles away.
Different delegations representing the Armenian diaspora have met with US State Department officials, urging them to “take immediate action to end the vicious onslaught on the historically Armenian town of Kassab, Syria, which was overrun by al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in an attack launched from Turkey on March 21.” The same day, March 28, State Department Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf spoke on the crisis in Kassab, stating, “We are deeply troubled by recent fighting and violence that is endangering the Armenian community in Kassab, Syria and has forced many to flee.” Several members of Congress have condemned the attacks in Kassab while a petition has been launched to recognize the atrocities occurring in Kassab on the White House website.
The concerns of Armenian-Americans are strongly shared by a small but resilient minority of reporters and citizens, particularly those living in the border towns of Turkey. Although rarely reported in the mainstream media, Turkish people have protested the government’s actions in Syria multiple times. Public-opinion surveys have consistently shown that support by the Turkish public for any military involvement in Syria is low. Even among Justice and Development Party loyalists, only 32% are supportive of such action. It would be fair to assess many Turks as not knowing what really is happening in Kassab as the Twitter and YouTube bans continue.
The same cannot be said for many Armenian-Americans, as many of them have relatives in Kassab and the region. Indeed, the crisis hits close to home for thousands of Angelinos. One of my best students, George Doctorian, happens to be one of them. He told Al-Monitor, “My great-uncle was asleep when he was suddenly awoken at 5 a.m. by the sound of gunshots. His son rushed into the room and told him that their town was under attack. Their neighbor had a car and they quickly jumped in and drove to Latakia. They left everything behind — passports, money, pictures, etc. My great-uncle left without a shirt. Everything they own has been left behind. They have been trying to get new passports and documentation, but it is almost impossible due to the ongoing conflict. My great-uncle believes that if they had waited a little longer to get their paperwork, they surely would not have made it out in time.”
He added, “Our family back in Kassab fears the worst. Churches have been destroyed and there are reports that even the cemeteries have been desecrated. Many reports show that the Turkish government has funded these rebel groups, primarily Jabat al-Nusra, and this is evidenced by the fact that these rebels were able to enter Kassab through the Turkish border.”
I hope for Doctorian’s commentary to be taken seriously by all parties. He said, “The events that are occurring in Kassab are horrific and should not occur in the 21st century, when the international community stresses the importance of religious freedom and basic human rights. I would, however, caution Armenians to stop using the word ‘genocide’ when describing the events that are taking place in Kassab. The word ‘genocide’ entails many requirements [in regard to what] was perpetrated by the Young Turks in the first world war. Using the word ‘genocide’ [for] the events in Kassab is wrong and does a disservice to our ancestors who went through the genocide.”
It is understandable that the younger generations of Armenians fear further persecution of their relatives in Syria. It is also understandable that Armenian youths from different parts of the world yearn to go to Syria to fight in defense of their relatives. With this background analysis, news about Los Angeles gang members going to Syria to take up arms in pro-Assad militias is not surprising.
The Turkish government denies any involvement in the events of Kassab, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s statement that Turkey’s door is open to Kassab’s Armenians has only further escalated tensions, as Armenian pundits consider Davutoglu’s comments a “mockery of the international community.”
Davutoglu has failed to answer the simple question: How did these armed militants enter the town of Kassab, if not through the Turkish border? The alleged leaks from a meeting between Davutoglu and high-level intelligence, military and Foreign Ministry representatives have been interpreted as a Turkish willingness to engage in war with Syria. To top this all off, during his March 30 victory speech, Erdogan declared, “We are in a state of war with Syria.” Since the Turkish government’s pleas for a no-fly zone have not found support in NATO, some in Turkey now ask: With an overwhelming electoral victory, would the Turkish government establish a de facto no-fly zone on its own?
Erdogan is now well-known for his recent obsession with “lobbies.” Although I have doubts about the “robot lobby” and “interest-rate lobby,” I know the Armenian lobby in the United States is real and legitimate. Will Erdogan criticize the Armenian lobby, as well? Most importantly, will the efforts of concerned Armenians and others around the world help deter further escalation of the Syrian civil war and save innocent lives?
Pinar Tremblay is a doctoral candidate in political science at University of California, Los Angeles, and an adjunct faculty member at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She has previously been published in
U.S. Congressmen hold press conference on Kessab (video) #savekessab
PanARMENIAN.Net – With the U.S. Capitol looming large in the background, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) led a Congressional press conference condemning the forced depopulation of the historically Armenian city of Kessab, Syria by al Qaeda affiliated terrorists aided and abetted by neighboring Turkey, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Congressman Schiff was joined by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA), as well as ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian in calling for increased U.S. leadership in assisting those displaced and investigating Turkey’s role in facilitating the attack.
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian thanked each of the legislators taking part in the news conference, stressing that: “These attacks came from Turkey, with the clear support of the Turkish military. We should have a zero-tolerance policy for any NATO ally working with Al-Qaeda-linked groups to attack religious minorities. It’s for this reason, that we support calls upon the House and Senate intelligence committees to investigate Turkey’s role in the attack on Kessab. We deserve to know if our allies – and possibly our arms – are being turned against Christians in the Middle East,” concluded Hamparian.
“Since the war began, I have continually raised my concern over the dangers facing Syrians of Armenian descent and other Christians,” explained Rep. Schiff. “I have spoken to the President about this directly, questioned our ambassador to the United Nations about this just last week, and urged the Appropriations Committee, on which I sit, to devote time, attention and resources to aiding Syria’s Christian community. In fact, this afternoon, I will be asking USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah about our efforts to reach the Christian communities still inside Syria.” Rep. Schiff went on to point out that “Many of the residents of Kessab are descendants of victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. There is particular poignancy to their being targeted in this manner, almost a century after the start of the genocide.”
Rep. Sherman was direct in his call for an investigation into Turkey’s role in the Kessab attacks. “I want to join with several of my colleagues in urging that the intelligence community and the State Department provide a classified briefing on what was Turkey’s role in assisting and providing shelter to al Qaeda linked terrorists who carried out this ethnic cleansing of the town of Kessab,” explained Rep. Sherman. “I also urge the State Department to go further than acknowledging a terrible situation and provide us with a clear, and I think it would have to be classified, description of how an Al-Qaeda linked group was able to enter Syria from Turkey, on a mission of ethnic cleansing, ” concluded Rep. Sherman.
“Over the past three years, the Syrian Christians have paid a high price in this civil war, and up until the last month, Kessab has been a safe haven for those seeking refuge,” noted Rep. Costa. “What’s even more troubling for me is the reports that the Turkish government has aided these terrorists by supplying them military support and supplies. And that’s why, I think it is incumbent upon those of us in Congress who care deeply about this issue, to provide the leadership, to speak out, and to ensure that our government provides the accountability necessary to get to the bottom of this.”
“I can’t help but think, ‘here we are again,” began Rep. Anna Eshoo. “Wherever there has been war across the Middle East, Christians have been targeted and have suffered enormously. And the recent rebel assault on the northern Syrian town of Kessab is yet another sad, sad chapter in what is taking place in the Middle East. And make no mistake, these communities, in this case the Armenians, are targeted because they are Christians and now they are residents on the chessboard of international politics. And as we anticipate almost the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide – it’s like ripping a scab off a wound. It runs very deep, it runs very broad,” concluded Congresswoman Eshoo.
“We see time and time again that it is the Christian minority, including the Armenian community, that is especially vulnerable,” noted Rep. Chu. “This was made tragically clear last month when Islamic militants from Turkey crossed the Syrian Turkish border and attacked the community in Kessab. It’s a city of refuge for Armenians fleeing the Armenian Genocide. It’s where Armenian Genocide survivors started a new life. This city served as a refuge for Syrian Armenians escaping the violence in Aleppo. Seeing this violence now is an unspeakable tragedy. […] Let’s return Kessab to a place of hope that it has been for the Armenian community for so many years,” concluded Rep. Chu.
“I think the U.S. has to be more involved in providing more help for not only Armenians but other Christians in Syria who are basically being harassed and persecuted and forced from their homes, because of the civil war,” explained Congressman Pallone. “One of the things that we did was that we wrote to the Appropriators and asked that sufficient help be given to the Armenians and other Christians for humanitarian purposes, because we know that while this incident, Kessab, is probably the most horrendous right now, there are other Armenians and Christians throughout Syria that had to flee their homes, that had been killed, and subject to loss of property and all sorts of other problems because of the civil war.”
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