Syrian Armenian refugees escorted to Turkey tell their story

Opposition fighters in Syria have been escorting elderly Armenian residents of the border town of Kasab to safety.

Syrian Armenian refugees escorted to Turkey tell their story

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Islamic Front Syrian opposition group is continuing to escort elderly ethnic Armenians to the Turkish border after capturing the town of Kasab from the regime forces two weeks ago. Having escorted two elderly Armenian sisters to safety last week, the opposition fighters escorted another 18 Armenians, 7 of whom were women, to the Turkish border this week.

After going through the necessary health checks, the group was accepted into Turkey and greeted by the local governor of the Turkish border town of Yayladag. After feeding the Armenians at a local guest house, the Armenians are escorted to the nearby village of Samandag - an Armenian village in Turkey - where many of them have relatives.

Regime forces have been bombarding the town ever since it was captured by the opposition, making the local Armenian residents fearful for their safety. In order to avoid unnecessary civilian deaths, opposition fighters from the Islamic Front have been working desperately to evacuate the mainly Armenian Christian villagers. Yusuf Ozhan from Turkey's Star newspaper went to the Samandag village to interview some of the Armenians on their experiences.

79-year-old Ammi had come from the city of Aleppo to pass the winter in Kasab, as Aleppo was under heavy bombardment. Saying that their homes had been turned into a war front, he explained that all the walls had been pierced with bullet holes. His niece, 66-year-old Annahid Aharonyan, who like her uncle also chose to pass the winter in Kasab, added that all the shops had shut down and they had nothing to eat, drink and not even any beds to sleep on. After regime forces pulled out, the two had been left at home alone and were too afraid to even look out the window as battles raged on around them.

The two relatives explained that after the regime forces left, one night while they were sleeping they heard opposition fighters entering their home but they hadn't noticed them because they were asleep. When they woke up in the morning, they were surprised to find 50 opposition fighters camping in their home. The fighters were equally surprised, and asked the elderly pair what they were still doing in the village.

At first they were scared that the fighters were going to kill them, and told them to just shoot them and get it over with. The fighters reassured them and said they were not planning to kill them. Instead they took them to another lodge where they were taken care of for 10 days. Annahid said they were looked after very well and were even allowed to call their children.

Annahid also added that the fighters would escort them to and from the local church, where they would offer their prayers. However, she was upset to see that even the church had been badly damaged by the fighting.

The Armenian refugees said that they were scared that they were going to die in the clashes and that they could not have made it to safety without help and expressed their gratitude to the fighters who escorted them, fed them and took care of their medical needs.

Last Mod: 08 Nisan 2014, 17:50
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