Militants from the Islamic Front’s (Jabhat Al-Islamiyya) largest milita Harakat ‘Ahrar Al-Sham (Liberators of the Levant Movement) fired multiple mortar shells Friday, Jan 9, at the St. Rita Cathedral in the Al-Tillal District, resulting in the exterior destruction of this historical Armenian Catholic Church in the Aleppo Governorate, Al-Masdar News reported.
The St. Rita Cathedral has been targeted by Harakat ‘Ahrar Al-Sham on numerous occasions; it holds no strategic advantage to these militants, due to the fact that civilians – specifically, Aleppo’s large Armenian community – attend this church. Non-Armenian Catholic civilians occasionally utilize the Cathedral’s wells because of the absence of water in some communities due to the obstruction of the water flow to the people of Aleppo.
According to a source in the area, no civilians were harmed as a result of this callous attack on the Cathedral; however, there were a number of hellfire cannons fired into the surrounding civilian neighborhoods by the militants of Harakat ‘Ahrar Al-Sham.
The attack on the St. Rita Cathedral in Al-Tillal comes 4 months after the destruction of the Armenian Genocide Memorial by militants from the Islamic State in the Deir ez-Zor province.
Syria’s Armenian community is one of the largest in the Middle East – the city of Aleppo was a safe haven for many Armenians attempting to flee the Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks.