Barnabas Fund

29 Syrian Christians killed in Aleppo during violent onslaught after threat from Turkey in approach to anniversary of Armenian genocide

Armenian and other solidly Christian neighbourhoods of Aleppo are reeling from a deadly rebel attack last week that peaked on Friday night (10 April) with rockets killing some 29 people, many of them children. At least 56 Christians were injured and seven Christian homes totally collapsed.

Aleppo has been left in ruins by months of fighting

Aleppo has seen massive destruction in the current conflict

Freedom House/CC BY 2.0

It was “a hell” said one Christian leader in Aleppo, describing the five hours from 9 pm until 2 am on Friday night and Saturday morning in which rockets rained down on the Christian homes. The final rocket to fall weighed 350kg but did not explode.

At least ten or eleven children were killed as they slept. In one home, a mother and her four children all died. But better news came on Saturday night when four other children were found alive under the ruins of one building.

Christians in Aleppo are in danger from attacks like these by forces within Syria but they are also aware of a chilling threat emanating from Turkey: “We will show all Armenians how to celebrate the 100thanniversary on 24 April.” This refers to the centenary of the worst year of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocide, which peaked in 1915. In that year some 800,000 Armenians were killed. Armenians focus their genocide remembrance on 24 April, the day on which Armenian leaders and intellectuals were targeted for deportation and killing. The whole genocide lasted three decades during which up to 3.75 million Armenians, Assyrians and other Christians were killed by the Ottoman Turks.

To make it even worse, the day of the attack was Good Friday for many of the Armenian Christians and by the time they came to Easter Sunday 12 April, many families were mourning their dead relatives and the whole community was in shock.

Christians in Aleppo cannot see what the future holds for them. Many of them are descended from Armenians who fled the genocide in Turkey and found a safe refuge in and around Aleppo. But Aleppo may never be safe for them again. Escape from Aleppo could be possible, but escape from Syria has become very difficult with Turkey closing the border and Lebanon now requiring visas. A Christian population of 400,000 in Aleppo had already been reduced to an estimated 85,000 by the end of March, as so many had fled. Syrian and Iraqi Christians fear that a new genocide, a hundred years after the first one, may soon become a reality.

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