Kessab Targeted by Al-Qaeda Front Groups in Cross-Border Attack from Turkey

KESSAB, SYRIA–The Armenian populated villages of Kesab (Kessab, Kasab), Syria were the target of three days of brutal cross-border attacks from Turkey by al-Qaeda affiliated armed bands, which has forced the civilian population of the area to flee for to neighboring hills, with many seeking safe-haven in the nearby cities of Latakia and Basit.

In a written statement, the Armenian National Committee—International, condemned the attacks and Turkey’s active role in aiding and abetting extremist groups in their targeted attacks against the Christian and minority populations in Syria. “For months, we have warned the international community of the imminent threat posed by extremist foreign fighters against the Christian minority population in Syria,” noted the ANC-I statement. “These vicious and unprompted attacks against the Armenian-populated town and villages of Kesab are the latest examples of this violence, actively encouraged by neighboring Turkey. We call upon all states with any influence in the Syrian conflict to use all available means to stop these attacks against the peaceful civilian population of Kesab, to allow them to return to their homes in safety and security. In the last one hundred years, this is the third time that the Armenians are being forced to leave Kesab and in all three cases, Turkey is the aggressor or on the side of the aggressors.”

According to news reports, the armed incursion began on Friday, March 21, 2014, at 5:45a.m., with rebels associated with Al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front, Sham al-Islam and Ansar al-Sham crossing the Turkish border and attacking the Armenian civilian population of Kesab. The attackers immediately seized two guard posts overlooking Kesab, including a strategic hill known as Observatory 45 and later took over the border crossing point with Turkey. Snipers targeted the civilian population and launched mortar attacks on the town and the surrounding villages.

According to eyewitness accounts, the attackers crossed the Turkish border with Syria openly passing through Turkish military barracks. According to Turkish media reports, the attackers carried their injured back to Turkey for treatment in the town of Yayladagi.

Some 670 Armenian families, the majority of the population of Kesab, were evacuated by the local Armenian community leadership to safer areas in neighboring Basit and Latakia. Ten to fifteen families with relations too elderly to move were either unable to leave or chose to stay in their homes.

On Saturday, March 22, Syrian troops launched a counteroffensive in an attempt to regain the border crossing point, eye-witnesses and state media reported. However, on Sunday, March 23, the extremist groups once again entered the town of Kesab, took the remaining Armenian families hostage, desecrated the town’s three Armenian churches, pillaging local residences and occupying the town and surrounding villages.

Located in the northwestern corner of Syria, near the border with Turkey, Kesab had, until very recently evaded major battles in the Syrian conflict. The local Armenian population had increased in recently years with the city serving as safe-haven for those fleeing from the war-torn cities of Yacubiye, Rakka and Aleppo.

Assad Regime Protests Turkey’s Involvement to United Nations

The latest onslaught on Kesab has prompted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government to protest to the United Nations that Turkey was providing cover to rebels crossing the border from its territory. In a message to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Damascus demanded that the Security Council denounce what it called a terrorist attack on Syrian territory.

Syrian state television made reference to the fighting in a breaking news alert, saying the army was “tackling attempts by terrorist gangs to infiltrate from Turkish territory and attack border crossings in northern Latakia province.”

Turkey Downs Syrian Fighter Jet

On March 23, Turkey said its fighter jets shot down a Syrian jet after it crossed into Turkish airspace.

Syria denied that its jet had violated Turkish airspace and, according to Agence France-Presse, accused Turkey of “a flagrant act of aggression that is evidence of Erdoğan’s support for terrorist groups.” The MIG-23 jets were reportedly flying a support mission to assist ground forces repelling extremist fighters which had infiltrated from Turkey into Kesab.

“The international community should restrain Turkey to stop this and similar anti-Armenian operations and in general it antagonistic policy against Armenia and the Armenian people,” concludes the ANC International’s statement.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.


  1. Every Armenian should get on the phone and let the White House and their Senators speak up against these aggressions by Turkey and their appoxie militants. Every Armenian organization should organize and speak up – loud and clear – against these transgressions by Turkey into Syria and the Armenian communities. Where is the outrage from our community?

  2. Sorry but where did you get all these information? Some of them are not correct. I’m a Kessabtsi and my entire family witnessed what happened….. ? Also please respect Syrian Government and don’t call it a “Regime”. Today on the battle field, Syrian president’s cousin was martyred defending Kessab, so please have some respect!

    • Silva,

      Can you give us more information based on what your family witnessed? I hope they’re ok. Reliable info is much welcome.

  3. Why is it whenever Armenians are brutalized by the radical islamists, nothing is said or mentioned in the news….but let it be another race all hell breaks loose condeming the atrocities but not for our people, and it is time that we Armenians finally become so vocal that the rest of the world…especially America who has totally ignored our plight finally sits up and listens, and does something about it!
    Mr. Shoebat told of these atrocities on Mark Levin’s radio talk show Tuesday!
    He, Mr. Shoebat is a great Christian who once was himself a muslim terrorist!
    I believe ANCA needs to get a hold of this man as I believe he could be a great asset!

  4. Looking back at the magnitude of the Syrian conflict and its deadly consequences/ramifications on the Minorities living in Syria, in retrospective I believe the Armenians in Kessab, being at a throw stone from the Turkish border( Turkey has been funding the Islamists from day one) ,should have this day coming and should armed themselves with the knowledge and the blessing of the Syrian Government like the “Syrian” Kurds did in the beginning of the conflict in the Northern parts of Syria( Kameshli, Hassake, Ras El Ain) creating a safe heaven zone for their Kurdish population. It interesting to note that the Kurds were pro active and smarter than the Armenian and held the ground. It is worthwhile to mention that there was a time back in the fifties and early sixties the Armenian population in Syria was at the least twice the Kurdish population of Syria and they even did not possess a Syrian citizenship for crying out loud. Too bad once again we the Armenians of the Middle East got short sited and did not see too far, or is it the comfort zone we were living in??

    • The relationship among these groups you mentioned is more like the relationship among prostitutes and their pimps. The prostitutes are the brainwashed, illiterate and infidel Al-Qaeda and the Jihadists, and the rest are their pimps faciliatating their actions for personal ganis and self-interest. Turkey is the master pimp.

  5. Shame on those Armenians who travel to Turkey for any reason and on Turkish airlines assuming that todays Turks are different and modernized
    When will you wake up,or do you care?

  6. Now is the time for ANC to let the state depatment know that Turkey is continuing its genocidal aggration against Armenians, now using the terrorists in Syria and the oposition that the USA is helping.
    Armenia should have also send a strong condemnation to the UN against Turkey.

  7. Those Al-Qaeda terrorists were not in the region and casually walked over into Syria. Turkey brought them in with military vehicles and with their injured, ambulances were waiting to take them to hospitals.

    What does this mean? It means that Turkey is a state sponsor of terror, specifically Al-Qaeda terror, the same people that have been killing Americans for the past 10 years.

    But do Neocon rats like McCain in the US Government care? No, in fact they’re in on this too. Imagine the same government sending its troops to die one place while at the same time supporting their killers elsewhere. Something is extremely wrong in the US – so-called “democratic country”.

    This act actually has little to do with the “sectarian war” in Syria, and it is a deliberate anti-Armenian pogrom by none other than the same terrorist network that implemented the Armenian Genocide in the same region previously, knowing full well that Kessab is a majority Armenian city.

  8. Some of y’all say you guys need to call the White House bla. bla. Why are you always seeking an outside assistance to get your matters resolved? America is and will be out of anything related to Syria. armenians are good at forming gangs, like they did against the Ottoman Empire. Why don’t you form gangs and fight against your enemies in Syria? Oh! Wait! You are too lazy to leave your Starbucks coffee in Glendale behind. Never mind! Keep whining!

    • Looks like someone’s sore about Armenians in Glendale. Got sh*t kicked out one too many times, Ahmet? Maybe you should avoid those Starbucks locations.

      As for the gangs fighting the Ottomans… Even though Armenians were almost always plain civilians fighting against organized state armies, they never had any problem fighting the Persians, Seljuks, Mongols, Turks, Azeris or now al-Quaeda. They have survived all these leeches before, and will survive this new version too.

      I give it 1 month before Turks stop crossing the border into Kessab, after getting its a$$ handed to it by local Armenians, just like they did in Karabagh.

    • Ahmed Oghloo, I wonder what happened to your “brave-heart” Geziest gang members, where Rajab Efendi disconnected your beloved twitters!!

  9. 2016 headline:

    Erdogan and family killed by Al Qaeda bombers.

    2017 headline:

    Secret Wiki-Turkey Government Documents Show Al Qaeda made pact with Al Qaeda, offering free passage to Syria in exchange for leaving Turkey alone.

    2018 headline:

    Jihadis from the Islamic world declare intent to return Turkey to Wahhabism; Turkish city elites in panic for western Visas.

    2019 headline:

    Istanbul Caliphate spokesperson declares: all infidels Gone from these lands; Turkey and Pakistan threaten nuclear strikes against Spain unless Al Andalusia is surrendered.

  10. Actually Ahmet, it’s you who’s doing the whining on here. And, the reason is because you happen to feel deeply disturbed by the extreme terrorist history of your country. As a result, just like the vast majority of your other Turkbaijani compatriots, you’re in desperate denial over the terrorist acts committed by your people in the past, as well as in the present.

    In terms of fighting enemies, how exactly are the Armenians of Syria supposed to fight those Islamic terrorists when they don’t even have guns? Those Islamic terrorists, who receive military assistance from the United States, are armed with the most advanced machine guns, as well as grenade launchers. What are Syria’s Armenians supposed to fight those terrorists with? Coat hangers? Broomsticks? Ping pong paddles? Let me tell you something here. Let’s take fifty of those guys, and match them up against me and 49 other Armenian guys in a completely fair fight, with or without weapons. And, I guarantee you that those Islamic terrorists would never show up for that kind of fight. Whether it’s Turkish terrorists, Azeri terrorists, or Arab terrorists, the point is that Islamic terrorists are just not capable of fighting a fair fight. In order for them to engage in a fight with Armenians, the Islamic terrorists must always have many more people on their side, as well as a huge advantage in military weapons.

  11. Kesab attack is directed towards Armenians and wouldn’t be possible without Turkey’s support: France24]

    Time to restart the ‘Reconciliation’ circus.
    Today’s Turks are not the same Turks of 1915: these are new, improved, peaceloving Turks.
    Clearly Turks want to live in peace with Armenians now.
    Why bring up something that happened almost 100 years ago.
    Leave it to historians to find out what really happened.
    And besides, everybody suffered: even the Turkish soldiers suffered; how do you think they felt after murdering Armenian women and children.They have feeling too, you know.

    President Sargsyan: put an end to the charade.
    Enough appeasing the genocidal monster.
    Withdraw RoA Gov signature from the Protocols.

  12. I hope the armenian community wakes up or like the rest of the minorities in syria, christians, shia, kurds, they will end up slaughetered by these animals.

    Let your politicians know, maybe someone somewhere will take notice of turkey’s (without a capital T) support to these jihadists

  13. Ahmet, you reap what you sow. Those terrorists are now building a bridgehead/infrastructure in Turkey as well and I don’t think they’re going to leave there and I believe they will create enormous problems for Turkey in the future. I don’t al Qaeda think they stop with Syria- nobody does. Be careful who you invite to dinner….to late.

    • Turks already are: the radical Sunni Islamist terrorists they hatched and let loose on Christians and Alawites are coming home to roost.

      [‘I did a good deed by killing a Turkish gendarme,’ Niğde assailant says] (hurriyetdailynews March/25/2014)

      {“I did a good deed by killing the Turkish gendarmerie soldier,” the perpetrator identified as Ç.R., a Swiss national who was first reported as being from Kosovo, told police, according to Doğan News Agency.
      The attack on March 20 left three dead and five injured, including a Turkish gendarmerie soldier and a police officer. All of the assailants, captured within hours, are suspected of being members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is linked with al-Qaeda.

      “I don’t render an account to anyone but Allah. I will not give any testimony. You are all pagans,” he was also quoted as saying. He also reportedly said Turkey was considered an “enemy” for being a NATO member. }

  14. So today I searched for Syria news and I came across an article by Mimi Al Laham aka “Syrian Girl” a long time well known blogger.

    The title:

    -NATO’s Turkey Providing Air Support for Al Qaeda in Northern Syria-

    Can the title for this Kessab incident get any more perfect than this?

    The article is also accurate and she probably has the correct info through her contacts since she is Syrian, stuff you will not hear on “the main stream media” aka “the web of neocon lies”.

    • Good link HagopD.

      I have been following her reports and interviews via Skype on Youtube on and off since the Syrian civil war and terrorist invasion began.
      She is good. She knows her stuff and knows what is really going on the ground.

  15. The underlying culprits here are not just in Turkey, but in the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and those who are funding al-Qaeda with huge amounts of cash. I would not be at all surprised if Israel was also involved in this effort. Will the US pressure any of their allies to stop? I doubt it, as the US is being pushed by powerful internal forces – lobbying groups who are essentially anti-Assad and anti-Armenian, to finish the task and hand Syria over to the hard line Islamist forces. This is the harsh, unpleasant reality that is being hidden from most Americans, who, if they knew the unvarnished truth, would rise up in disbelief that their tax dollars are being used to support such players. Horrific doesn’t begin to describe this turn of events.

  16. the armenians need a secret army to kill all those who are supporting those criminals who are killing armenian,it’s time for the armenians to let those criminal who are supporting the crime against armenians be punished by the armenians,MIAYN ZENKOV GA HAYOTS PERGOUTYOUN.

  17. Karekin, I totally agree with you. As usual the Turkish government operates on an opportunist mode. It found the current status of the region conducive to do its thing again. I would not be surprised if they invade Northern Syria if and when the current Syrian government falls. This might be a reward given to them for carrying the AlQaeda, US, Saudi and Israeli agenda planning to topple Assad’s government. The Turkish government did this in Cyprus and got away with it so far, why not again? Who will stop them?

    Avery above says that today’s Turks are not the same as the ones 100 years ago. May be the Turks, but the Turkish government policies have never changed. Let’s just check their past track record. If the Turks have changed why don’t they rise up and change their own government too? Actually the Turks themselves have become victims of their own government and specially with recent uprisings they have not been able to make an iota of a difference.

  18. As usual with Armenians…all is News broadcasts,then Meghk e…a pity and consolations, plus well.. some found refuge in nearby hills and/or towns…period.
    No one “‘suggests”‘ like i do ,as follows>/
    Armenians living*whatever reason may be …in those civil war prone or trigger happy *X( peoples….shoiuld have been armed by our KOMITAGEE…..OR WHOEVER ARE THE BOSSES8SO CALLED….yES,BECAUSE IF SOME OF THESE FREE LANCE AL q RATHER s..ENTERED THEIR HOMES COULD HAVE SHOT A FEW OF THEM .wHICH WOULD AWAKEN THESE s. aL q. TO KEEP AWAY AND OR OTHER SUCH.
    iT IS WWELL PAST THE TIME FOR Armeniasn to think arm rather than just praying…yes pray with bible in one hand and another hand pressed in your pocket on your gun!!!! period
    I remember what an armenian girl wrote in one Armen web page when Bush junior decided to enter irxaq..she wrote and I quote””he does not know what hell he is entering into….
    un quote

  19. i think that the Armenian and Russian army should go to kessab immediately and on the way seize some more land of ours historic kilikia

  20. We “Turkish”, we lived with Armenians for hundred years in peace and respect to each other. “Millet-i Sadika” we said to armenians mean “Loyal People”. Ottomans make them ministers, congressman also in modern Turkey ex:Kigork Berc Keresteciyan. But these are not enough for Armenians, Armenians and politicians killed this respect. According to me all these because of Armenians.
    If we come today, We have to respect Syria’s government. This is not our business. But again politicians.!

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