The Armavia airline said on Wednesday that it will carry out several additional flights to Syria this month to bring hundreds of Syrian children of Armenian descent to Armenia as part of a government program.
In a written statement, the company said the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora plans to organize summer holidays for up to 400 Syrian Armenian children with the financial support of the Prometey commercial bank based in Yerevan. It said Armavia planes will fly not only to Aleppo but also the capital Damascus for that purpose. The first of those flights is scheduled for Thursday.
Ministry officials told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the children’s arrival in Armenia should not be regarded as an evacuation from the war-torn country because they are expected to spend only two weeks at Armenian summer camps for children. Still, Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobian said separately that the children could stay longer in Armenia if the security situation in Syria continues to deteriorate.
Armavia already increased last month the frequency of its weekly flights to Aleppo, citing the need to enable more Syrian Armenians to flee vicious fighting there.
Armavia carried out its most recent Aleppo-Yerevan flight early on Wednesday. The newly arrived Syrian Armenians spoke of intensifying street battles between Syrian government forces and rebels.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), some of them also said that Armenians remaining in Aleppo have formed, with the Syrian government’s backing, militia groups to protect the city’s Armenian neighborhoods. They said one member of those groups was killed on Tuesday.