When Even ‘Terrorists’ Acknowledge Their Crimes

Special for The Armenian Weekly

For the past three years, Syrians have been terrorized by the ongoing conflict between the government and the various factions of the opposition. The destruction is staggering: 150,000 dead, 9 million displaced (refugees and IDPs), 3 million homes damaged, and half of the country’s infrastructure destroyed.

On March 8, the Martyrs of the Badr Brigade launched an offensive in the Meedan neighborhood of Aleppo. Later that evening, the brigade posted a Youtube video demonstrating the details of the operation.

“In response to the barrel attacks by the regime forces, we, the Martyrs of the Badr Brigade, will target the Syrian government bases in the Meedan and Suleymaniyeh neighborhoods,” said the leader of the brigade. “For their own protection, we urge civilians living near the Shabiha military bases to move out of those areas.”

The vast majority of the inhabitants of the Meedan and Suleymaniyeh neighborhoods are Armenians. Not surprisingly, the March 8 attacks damaged homes of Syrian-Armenians in Aleppo. “Go to hell you stupid people,” reacted one Syrian-Armenian civilian on social media. She later told me that her home had been destroyed in these attacks.

The 'apology'
The ‘apology’

A few days later, the leadership of the Lewaa Ahfad al-Moursaleen, another rebel group fighting against the Assad regime, sent a letter of apology to the Syrian-Armenian leadership in Aleppo.

The letter stated:

“We, the leadership of the Ahfad al-Moursaleen Brigade, apologize to our Armenian brothers for the mistake that took place yesterday in the Meedan neighborhood.

“We affirm that we are moving forward with our revolution against the tyrant and his supporters. The Kurds and the Armenians are our brothers. Their suffering is our suffering. We urge all of you to stand with the revolution.”

The ferocity of the Syrian conflict has left no room for objectivity. Every aspect of this conflict is analyzed and presented based on the vantage point of the beholder. For the Syrian government and its supporters, the Martyrs of the Badr Brigade or the Ahfad al-Moursaleen Brigade qualify as terrorist groups, whereas the opponents of the Syrian government hail them as freedom fighters.

But while subjectivity is the order of the day in Syria, the fact remains that the March 8 attacks failed to cause any damage to the Syrian regime bases. The attacks resulted in the damaging of homes and buildings belonging to Syrian-Armenian civilians. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the attacks terrorized the Armenian community in Syria and, more importantly, the attacks constitute a clear violation of international humanitarian law.

But while violations of international humanitarian law and all norms of international law is a common feature of life in Syria these days, the ironic aspect of the March 8 attacks is that the buildings that were damaged were located across the street from the Karen Jeppe Armenian College. Karen Jeppe was the Danish missionary who took care of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

Whereas it took two days for “terrorists” in Syria to acknowledge their crimes and present an official apology to the Syrian-Armenian community, the Turkish government continues to pursue a policy of denial almost 100 years after the Armenian Genocide. If “terrorists” acknowledge their own crimes, then what does that say about the Turkish government?

Sarkis Balkhian

Sarkis Balkhian

Sarkis Balkhian is a contrarian, political, and human rights activist focusing on the Middle East and the South Caucasus regions. He is the advocacy director of the Aleppo Compatriotic Charitable Organization, a group supporting Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons. Balkhian holds a B.A in government and international relations from Clark University and an M.A. in diplomacy and international relations from Yerevan State University. He is based in Yerevan.


  1. If the Arab terrorists acknowledge their own crimes, then what does this say about the terrorist Turkish nation, which after almost a full entire century, has not recognized the three genocides it committed against the Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians? Well, this says that the terrorist nation of Turkey is an extremely dishonest nation, as opposed to the Arab terrorists who are honest about the crimes they’ve committed.

  2. It´s really astonishing that the US are still able to stop Turkey from invading as a further Terrorist Group into Syria. Turkish officials would so much like to attack and kill the Kurdish leaders in Northeastern Syria. I hope they will NEVER get into Syria !

  3. The fact the the “terrotists” acknowledged and apologized for the attack shows that the action was most probalby not intentional, otherwise why would they commit a crime intentionally and then apologize for it. Also, the fact that they call Armenians and Kurds “brothers” shows that even amid the chaos of destruction and war not all traces of human conscience is lost.

  4. Arshag,

    It seems that you’re condoning the actions of those Arab Muslim terrorists? The March 8th attack on that Armenian neighborhood in Aleppo, was certainly not the first attack against the Armenian communities of Syria. There have been numerous attacks on these Armenian communities. The truth of the matter here, is that these Arab Muslim terrorists have caused serious harm to the Armenians of Syria. As of September 30th, 2013, which precedes the March 8th attack, 64 Armenian civilians were murdered, 172 injured, and 110 kidnapped. And up to that period of time, 10 Armenian churches, 13 schools, and 10 community centers were damaged. Is this your definition of brotherhood? All of this, certainly does not sound like it was unintentional. And, just because these terrorists happen to be honest in acknowledging their crimes against Armenians, does not mean that it was not intentional. As a matter of fact, these Arab Muslim terrorists almost always make it a point of acknowledging the terrorist attacks they commit. That’s part of their whole strategy. They’re hungry for attention. The more attention they get, the stronger they feel.

  5. The Arabic proverb says يقتل القتيل ويمشي في جنازته ” kills his victim and then walks in his funeral ” this is the meaning of the terrorists’ appology

  6. The Arabic proverb says يقتل القتيل ويمشي في جنازته ” kills his victim and theon walks in his funeral ” this is the meaning of the terrorists’ appology

  7. Well said Yerevanian:
    Well said Hay:

    The so-called apology is insincere. Fake.
    The terrorists have been losing badly recently, so they don’t want more enemies.
    And they want to create the false image that they are supposedly only fighting the ‘evil regime’, not their supposed ‘brothers’.

    Where is their apology for all the atrocities they have committed against Armenians that [Yerevanian] listed above.
    Other than those draft-age Syrian-Armenians serving in Syrian Army, as they are required, the Syrian Armenian community has stayed neutral.
    Yet these Radical Islamists have deliberately targeted Armenians.
    You have already forgotten these same terrorists took over an Armenian church in Raqqa and replaced our cross on the steeple with the black flag of the Islamic terrorists ? What ‘brotherhood’ ?
    Do you know hundreds of Turkbaijani terrorists from Azerbaijan have gone to Syria to specifically attack and kill Armenians there ?

    If these radical Islamists with supposedly ‘human conscience’ ever win in Syria, not a single Christian or Alawite will be spared.
    These medieval savages have resorted to cannibalism, have cut the heads off of captured, handcuffed soldiers with knives while they are alive, murdered POWs, wiped out and massacred entire Alawite villages,…

    What ‘human conscience’ are you talking about, Arshag ?
    So these guys supposedly have ‘conscience’ and Putin is the bad guy in your world view ?
    And yes they are Terrorists, with a capital T. Not “terrorists” in quotes.

  8. If only the Syrians were involved in this revolution of saving Syria from dictatorship, I can understand. The fact is the Syrian fighters for freedom are infiltrated by jihadists fantaic muslims it is hard to support their cause.

  9. The West will appease to Turkey as before and ignore the suffering of the Armenians. Urdugan thinks he will revive the Ottomon empire, his supporters are already calling him the Sultan, the secular Turks seem powerless from stopping this mad man from taking Turkey to the dark ages, maybe- the occupied lands Anatolia…i.e. present day ‘turkey’ might end up paying a hefty price, hopefully!

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