ISIS Blows Up Church in Syria Dedicated to Victims of Armenian Genocide

The town of Der Zor east of Damascus was home to unspeakable atrocities committed against the Armenian Christians at the hands of the Turks a century ago. A church built there that was dedicated to the memories of the hundreds of thousands of victims has been bombed by ISIS with the tacit support of… the Turks:

An Armenian Apostolic church constructed in memory of the victims of the 20th century Armenian genocide was “rigged and dynamited” on Sunday by forces loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), according to reports from Syria’s government news agency.

The Armenian Holy Martyrs Church in Der Zor, located in the Syrian desert 280 miles northeast of Damascus, was constructed in memory of the victims of the 1916 Armenian genocide and consecrated in 1991.

The site was chosen because Der Zor is believed to have housed death camps in which an estimated 150,000 to 400,000 Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turks 100 years ago. The destroyed church included a museum housing the remains of some of the genocide victims.

There is widespread belief among the Armenians that the destruction of the Holy Martyrs Church is much more about collaboration between Turkey and ISIS than it is the Islamic State acting alone:

A century after the Armenian genoicide, some Armenians suspect Turkish involvement in the ISIS attack, especially in light of the recent release of 49 Turkish diplomats by ISIS.

“If Turkey is not behind the terrorism, having exploded this unique church, which is of great importance to the Armenians, it will immediately issue a condemning statement,” Vigen Sargsyan, head of staff of the president of the Republic of Armenia, reportedly wrote on his Facebook page.

However, according to Armenian Public Radio,“while authorities in Armenia have severely condemned the attack on the Saint Martyrs Church, Turkey… has yet to comment on the attack.”

Armenian Public Radio spoke to Andranik Ispiryan, an expert in Turkish studies, who speculated that “through cooperation with the Islamic State, Turkey is trying to overthrow [Syrian President Bashar] Assad’s regime and bring Sunni Muslims to power, to neutralize the Kurdish element in Syria, destroy the large Armenian community formed in Syria after the Armenian Genocide and erase its cultural heritage.”

That Turkey would be involved is not the least bit farfetched. Earlier this year, as reported, recordings of secret meetings with Turkish leaders revealed Turkey’s involvement in the attacks on Armenians in Kessab, a town in Syria.


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