KESSAB, Syria (A.W.)—The predominantly Armenian-populated town of Kessab has been emptied after rebels associated with Al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front, Sham al-Islam and Ansar al-Sham attacked the region in a bid to control strategic points in the area.
In the following video posted on YouTube, fighters are shown parading the streets of Kessab. The Armenian Apostolic Church also appears, and is identified by the gunmen as such, in the video.
Kessab was under fire over the past several days from gunmen entering the region from the Turkish border. By March 22, most of the town’s population had taken refuge in Latakia.
According to reports, Kessab and its surrounding villages are now largely under the control of rebels.
“According to a military source, units of the armed forces have since morning been directing fatal strikes to the terrorist groups which infiltrated the border from Turkey in Kassab area, inflicting heavy losses upon them,” reported the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on March 23.
Perched in the northwestern corner of Syria, near the border with Turkey, Kessab had, until very recently, evaded major battles between the army and rebels. Many Syrian Armenians had taken refuge there because of the relative calm in the area over the past three years.
Sarkisian points to sobering parallels
President Serge Sarkisian made a press statement concerning the events in Kessab at the World Forum Convention Center in The Hague. The President expressed his deep concern over the events in Kessab. “All of us perfectly remember the history of Kessab, which was unfortunately, full of hellish realities deportations in the last century,” said Sarkisian.