ALEPPO, Syria (A.W.)—The Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church in Aleppo’s Munshieh district was severely damaged after militant groups launched a missile attack on several Aleppo neighborhoods, including Munshieh, Azizieh, and Saad Jabri on the morning of Jan. 17. According to the Aleppo-based Armenian news outlet Kantsasar, the church was hit a few hours after Sunday Mass. According to the report, there were no casualties, though the building suffered extensive damages. According to the report, the roof and pews of the church were partly destroyed.
Hours following the attack, the leader of the Armenian Evangelical community of Syria, Reverend Haroutune Selimian, visited the church to assess the damage. Community members also assembled at the church on Monday to begin the cleanup and restoration of the damaged church.
Dr. Nerses Sarkissian, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Central Committee of Syria and of the Syrian Armenian Committee for Urgent Relief and Rehabilitation, toured Armenian communities across the Eastern United States from Dec. 1-24, 2015, to present the current situation in Syria and the challenges facing the Armenian community there. During his tour, which was organized by the ARF Central Committee of the Eastern United States and the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) Eastern United States, Sarkissian spoke with the Armenian Weekly about the hardships the Syrian-Armenian community—particularly the Armenian community of Aleppo—has faced since the beginning of the Syrian crisis.
“All of Aleppo has become a target, not only the Armenian districts. However, sometimes the Armenian-populated districts are more of a target than other parts of the city, since there are factions within the opposition that have an anti-Armenian, or pro-Turkish, agenda. So the safety of our community is always in danger,” explained Sarkissian, who spoke in detail about the community’s ongoing challenges, including the lack of water and electricity, a depleted economy, joblessness, and constant threats of rocket attacks and escalated violence.
The Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church of Aleppo was established in 1852 in the old city, while the current church structure was built in 1923. According to the church’s website, the church has a congregation of about 150 families, a Sunday School of about 70 students, a ladies auxiliary, and a youth committee that holds regular Bible study programs throughout the year.