DEIR-EZ-ZOR, Syria (A.W.)—Der Zor’s Armenian Genocide Memorial Church (Holy Martyrs), which was severely damaged over the last three years in the Syrian Civil War, has been liberated, according to local reports.
The Al-Masdar news agency, which has extensively covered the Syrian War on the ground, published photographs of the exterior of the church on Monday.
Two days earlier, on Nov. 3, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that the Syrian Armed Fores liberated the eastern city widely considered the last major ISIS stronghold in Syria.
“Units of the Syrian Arab Army, in cooperation with the allied and supporting forces, have accomplished the mission of fully liberating Deir ez-Zor city from [the] ISIS terrorist organization,” a military source said on Friday, as cited by the state news agency.
The Al-Masdar photographs show extensive damage to the church, which was first targeted by ISIS militants on Sept. 21, 2014. Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian issued a statement at the time, condemning the destruction of the church, which housed the remains of victims of the Armenian Genocide, calling it a “horrible barbarity.”
Nalbandian had called on the international community to cut the Islamic State’s sources of supply, support, and financing, and eradicate what it referred to as a disease that “threatened civilized mankind.”
The church was built in 1989-90, and consecrated a year later. A Genocide memorial and a museum that housed remains of the victims of the genocide was also built on the church compound.
Thousands of Armenians from Syria and neighboring countries gathered at the memorial every year on April 24 to commemorate the Armenian Genocide.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians perished in Der Zor and the surrounding desert during the Armenian Genocide. In the summer of 1916 alone, more than 200,000 Armenians, mostly women and children, were brutally massacred by Ottoman Turkish gendarmes and armed bands from the region.