Contrary to earlier reports, the church itself has not been destroyed.
ALEPPO, Syria (A.W.)—The Armenian Forty Martyrs Church compound in Judayda, Aleppo, suffered widespread damage on April 28. The church itself, however, escaped major harm.
Based on news sources from Aleppo, the Armenian Weekly reported last week that the church had been destroyed. Yet, sources in Aleppo have since confirmed that the major damage was to the compound only; a hall, parts of the wall, the courtyard, and the gate were damaged.
The Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern U.S. confirmed the attack on the church to the Armenian Weekly on April 28.
There were some reports on April 29 that the church had been bombed with explosives placed underneath the structure through underground tunnels; others claimed the destruction was due to shelling.
The Forty Martyrs Church dates back to the 15th century. The first mention of the church appeared in the second edition of the 1476 book, The Exploit of the Holy Bible, by Father Melikseth. The bell tower was built in 1912. The church housed khatchkars, relics, and icons, including “The Last Judgment,” a painting that dates back to 1703.
The church has been at the center of Armenian community life in Aleppo for centuries.
The attack on the Forty Martyrs Church came about four months after terrorists bombed the Armenian Catholic Cathedral Our Lady of Pity (also known as St. Rita), located next to the Armenian Catholic Archeparchy of Aleppo, leaving the church partly destroyed. In September 2014, terrorists destroyed the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Der Zor, Syria—considered the Auschwitz of the Armenian Genocide.
Before the start of the Syrian crisis in spring 2011, between 60,000-70,000 Armenians called Syria home, constituting less than 0.5 percent of the country’s total population. More than half of them lived in Aleppo, with the other half scattered in such cities as Latakia, Homs, Qamishli, Hasakeh, Yaqubiye, Raqqa, Kessab, and the capital Damascus.