Syria Update:
“Entire Neighborhoods Have Caught Fire”

Last week, CNEWA was able to talk over the phone with the Maronite priest, the Rev. Elias Adas.

Last week, CNEWA was able to talk over the phone with the Maronite priest, the Rev. Elias Adas, who is running a health facility in Aleppo, and he confirmed that at present only 35,000 Christians remain in Aleppo out of around 200,000-250,000 before 2011.

He added that the last six days, all Christian quarters were subject to heavy shelling by Islamic militants — namely Suleimanyyeh, Azizeh and Midane. The Christians, along with all inhabitants of Aleppo, are living in very difficult conditions, with no electricity (mostly one hour per day) and inflation causing soaring costs for food and basic needs . He added that due to lack of employment and with very low salaries, all inhabitants of Aleppo are in need for support to be able to survive.

He assured us that the dispensary which he is running is still operational and is providing services to all needy patients.

‘Christian Today’ reports that the Syrian Christian neighborhood of Sulaymaniyah in Aleppo was attacked and at least eight children were killed.

Nuri Kino, founder of Demand for Action (ADFA), a group working to protect minorities in the Middle East, said: “Turkish forces fighting together with the so-called opposition have been fighting the regime’s army for a couple of days now, heavy fighting. But what people could not see coming was the attacks against Christian neighborhoods…Kurdish neighborhoods have also been attacked. Both the Christians and the Kurdish are seen as the enemy, it’s a mess.”

Speaking to Asia News over the phone from Aleppo, Armenian Sevag Tashdjian said: “Islamic terrorist groups supported by Turkey,” who “cross Turkish-Syrian border trafficking arms, ammunition and stolen goods” are responsible for recent deaths. Tashdjian continues “We woke up under the bombs, it is Turkey’s gift.” He added, “Entire neighborhoods have caught fire and we went under the bombs to bring relief to sick and elderly trapped in their homes and take them to safety, to safer underground shelters.”

The few open shopkeepers closed their doors, and for the first time in five years of conflict, “anger has overcome fear.” It must be said that the Aleppo Armenians are the group who paid the highest price so far in the war, with the destruction of the ancient churches (including the Church of the 40 Martyrs, a 17th century architectural jewel). The churches were destroyed by explosives placed in underground tunnels carved from areas controlled by pro-Turkish Islamic terrorists.

Islamic terrorists have launched a series of heavy bomb attacks from areas not under government control on Armenian districts of Aleppo, in clear violation of the ceasefire. The bombs killed 17 Armenians including 3 children and a woman, and have sparked a series of fires that are still raging due to the lack of water, causing extensive destruction and damage to property.

Zarmig Boghigian, the editor of the local Armenian newspaper “Kantsasar,” said “The fighting is very close to the Armenian neighborhoods.” She added: “There are terrible clashes involving rocket fire. They are so close that the population here can see gas shells fired by [rebel] fighters.” Ms. Boghigian confirmed that rebel fire at the weekend seriously damaged a clinic run by an Armenian charity and an Armenian school in the predominantly Christian Nor Kyugh district.

Residents of the city’s Armenian district stated their belief that the attack was deliberately timed for the 101th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide — an anniversary that had been observed at churches in the neighborhood the previous day. The biggest indicator of this belief is that unexploded bombs were found with the message “Martyr Enver Pasha” written on them, which notes one of the leaders of the Young Turk movement who perpetrated the Armenian genocide.

Residents charge that Islamic forces in Aleppo are receiving assistance from Turkey, and blasted Syria’s President Assad for his failure to protect the Christian minority.

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