Aleppo’s Armenian Christian Neighborhoods Targeted By Jihadi (and Turkish) Rockets

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Rockets from the city’s eastern sector hit Christian areas for days, fired by the al Nusra Front on Turkish orders.  At least five Armenian Christians have been killed over the weekend, and a dozen wounded. Aleppo’s Armenian community calls for help from all the Churches of the world. 

(AsiaNews) – Fighting and dying continue not only in eastern Aleppo, where the Syrian army is pursuing its offensive backed by Russian air strikes, but also in the government-controlled western districts.

Local sources said that over the weekend the Russian-Syrian airstrikes hit a hospital in the eastern sector. At the same time, the Armenian districts in the western sector of northern Syria’s economic hub came under fire from the city’s jihadi-controlled eastern sector.

This attack began last Friday, on September 30. Local sources said that the predominantly Armenian areas of Nor Kiugh and Villa were especially targeted. Al Nusra forces are thought to be behind it acting on Turkish order, local witnesses said. In fact, Ankara appears to be directing the bombing of Armenian civilians.

Four people are known to have died: Dzila Jabaghcourian, Arman Hindoyan, Hasmig Ghiragossian, and Mireille Hindoyan.

According to Aleppo Kantzasar, the local Armenian language newspaper, Turkey is the instigator of the massacres of innocents through “its local agents”, which is how it describes the al Nusra Front, Turkmen groups, and the El Nur Eddin Zanki movement.

The death of these four people came right after the death of 47-year-old Sevan Haddadian, who was killed in the bombing in Suleymaniye, another Armenian area in western Aleppo.

Two other Armenian Christians seriously injured in the bombings are currently fighting for their life.  Seven others reported minor injuries.

Also last Friday, students at an Armenian school in Aleppo, founded by missionary Karen Jeppe for orphans who survived the Turkish genocide of 1915, were moved to underground shelters. They were unable to reach their families until late evening.

Between 23 and 30 September rocket attacks from eastern Aleppo, especially Bustan el Pasha, Madrassat al Hikme, al Rashidin 4, Project 1070 and the financial district, hit in particular Christian neighborhoods, claiming 57 lives (20 children, 14 women and 23 men) and injuring another 167, including 37 children and 53 women.

The districts in western Aleppo subject to rocket attacks and sniper fire include predominantly Christian Suleymaniye and al Maydan, as well as al Jabiriya, al Hamadaniya and Jamiyaat.

Rockets also hit a group of Sunni worshipers as they left the mosque in al Zahra’a at the end of Friday prayers. The al Nusra Front, an extremist Islamic group that describes itself as the protector of Sunnis, was responsible for the attack.

Aleppo’s Armenian community has appealed for help from all the Churches of the world through Kantzasar, calling for “an end to the bombings against innocent civilians on both sides of the city.”

Aleppo’s Armenian newspaper also thanked “His Holiness the pope for not forgetting Aleppo’s tragedy during his pastoral visit to Georgia.”

The Armenian foreign minister, who expressed his “deep concern” over the escalation of violence, also announced that Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan ordered that two planes with urgent humanitarian aid be sent to Syria.

“Aleppo is dying before the eyes of the world amid extreme indifference,” said a presenter on the first channel of Armenian State television, “just like 101 years ago when our nation was exterminated as a whole.”

Armenia To Send Relief Aid To Syria

(RFE/RL) – Armenia said it will send humanitarian aid to Syria after five ethnic Armenian civilians were reportedly killed in Aleppo on Friday amid fierce fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels.

“We are deeply concerned over the recent escalation of the military situation in Syria,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The deplorable use of weaponry against the civilian population of Aleppo, including of the Armenian district, that resulted in numerous human losses is a matter of particular concern,” read the statement. “We express our deep condolences and support to the families and relatives of the killed and wounded.”

The statement added that President Serzh Sargsyan has instructed Armenia’s government to send two planeloads of humanitarian aid to the war-ravaged country to “support the population affected by the Syrian conflict.”

It did not specify whether the aid will be delivered to Syria’s remaining Armenian community. Many of its members still live in government-controlled parts of Aleppo, the country’s formerly largest city and the epicenter of heavy fighting in the Syrian civil war.

Gun battles in and around the city continued on Friday, with the Syrian army reportedly continuing its Russian-backed offensive on rebel-held districts of Aleppo. U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a phone call on Thursday condemned what they called “barbarous” Russia and Syrian air strikes on those areas.

Kantsasar.com, an Aleppo-based Armenian publication, reported that rebel forces shelled two Armenian-populated neighborhoods of the divided city early in the morning. The shelling left 5 Syrian Armenians dead and 11 others wounded, the publication said, identifying all of those civilians.

Aleppo was home to the majority of an estimated 80,000 ethnic Armenians who lived in Syria until the outbreak of the bloody conflict five years ago. Only up to 10,000 of them reportedly remain in Middle Eastern country now. Many are said to be unable to flee the war zone or simply have nowhere to go.

More than 16,000 Syrian Armenians have taken refuge in Armenia, according to the authorities in Yerevan.

Photo Caption: Syrian civilians and rescuers gather at site of government forces air strikes in the rebel held neighborhood of Al-Shaar in Aleppo on September 27, 2016.