The conflict in Syria and the exodus of a few million Syrians to neighboring countries is now in its fifth year. The length of this conflict tragically reminds us of the lives lost, as well as Syrian refugee and host-community children and adolescents who lack educational opportunities, who face serious social tensions and suffer from unfulfilled potentials and productivity. The Syrian people are experiencing a variety of hardships including isolation and insecurity, psychological distress, extended disruptions of education and exploitative employment.
Today we still experience a war that has been raging in our beloved Syria for the last five years. The conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond Syria’s borders.
Concerning the situation in the city of Aleppo, we can say that life is becoming increasingly expensive and very difficult to cope with and add to this the constant lack of necessities. Normal electricity was something people had forgotten about since fifteen days. Water is also a problem.
Unfortunately, at this time and since four long years there is a major security threat to all citizens of Aleppo. The sound of shells and grenades can be heard any time of the day and night and could target any place at any time.
A week ago, on April 8, Sbidag Azad Ghazarian, a Kamishli-Armenian serving in the Syrian Army was killed in action. Two days earlier, another ethnic-Armenian service man in the Syrian Armed Forces from Aleppo, Raffi Kazezian, was killed in action in Damascus.
Over the last few days, Aleppo’s Armenian-populated Nor Kyugh and Villat districts was attacked by missiles on April 14. The attack came from militant opposition groups breaking the ceasefire early in the morning. Some people sustained injuries and many buildings, including homes and stores, suffered extensive damage. Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsood district has also been the target of missile attacks and at least one missile struck the vicinity of the Karen Jeppe Armenian School [Jemaran] of Aleppo. Syrian Army Forces are making attempts to gain control of the targeted areas of the city. These latest attacks came a day after Syria’s Parliamentary Elections, which the Armenian community actively participated in.
The latest development in Aleppo City is also that the Syrian Air Force and Syrian Arab Army units continued targeting terrorist organizations on Wednesday, 13th of April 2016, destroying a position for Jabhat al-Nusra leaders in Daraa province and killing many terrorists in Aleppo, Homs, and Hama. Army units with a cover from the Syrian Air force targeted dens and gatherings of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations, which breached the cessation of hostilities in Aleppo countryside.
Army units backed by Syrian aircrafts carried out on Wednesday a series of intensive strikes against positions and gatherings of Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations in Bans village, Hadieh and al-Eis hills and ICARDA area.
Air strikes destroyed many positions and gatherings for terrorists as well as vehicles equipped with various machine guns, arms, and ammunition.
Army units launched strikes on hotbeds, gatherings, and vehicles of terrorist organizations in al-Rashideen1 and four and Bani Zaid neighborhoods and destroyed them. An army unit eliminated the terrorist gatherings in Souran village near Azaaz city in the northern countryside of Aleppo.
In the eastern countryside of Aleppo, dens and vehicles equipped with various machine guns for ISIS terrorists were destroyed in the area surrounding the Air force academy, al-Areemeh and Abad villages, Deir Hafer town and al-Bab city.
Despite of all above mentioned challenges, our people will continue to work for peace and safety. They will continue preparing for a good future for their children. Syria was in the past a beacon of light and we have great hopes that it will once more be one in the future as well with continuous co-existence, which has been one of the pillars of our nation. We, as the Armenian Community in Syria, will remain faithful and will keep our houses, churches, and organizations alive.
Being in the midst of the storm and yet at the same time having the grace and the power of Jesus Christ as such a reality in our lives where we can say, “The storms may rage, but through the power of God, they can’t destroy us.
We will stand with firm belief and will always be upfront in assessing the needs of our community and act accountably. We will continue to pray that violent conflict comes to end, and reconciliation processes begin.
Rev. Haroutune Selimian, President
Armenian Protestant Community in Syria