Four ethnic Armenian civilians have reportedly been killed and dozens of others wounded in Syria’s formerly largest city of Aleppo in continuing clashes between Syrian government troops and rebel forces.
According to local Armenian activists, they died on Thursday evening when an Armenian-populated government-controlled district of the war-ravaged city was shelled by insurgents. Three of the male victims were said to have been burned to death inside a small workshop that caught fire, while the fourth man was killed by a rocket moments later.
Zarmig Boghigian, the editor of the Aleppo-based Armenian magazine Kantsasar, said the shelling lasted for two hours, leaving several dozen other Syrian Armenians wounded.
“Last past night was really bad. Armed terrorist groups fired around 40 rockets and gas tanks within two hours,” Boghigian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) by phone. The gunfire seriously damaged an Armenian church and a school, she said.
Boghigian claimed that the Armenian-populated Nor Kyugh district was deliberately targeted by “pro-Turkish” rebels.
“Kantsasar” reported earlier that an Armenian nursing home in Aleppo was shelled and partly destroyed last week. It said one Syrian Armenian, a woman, was killed and two others wounded as a result.
Aleppo was home to the majority of an estimated 80,000 ethnic Armenians who lived in Syria until the outbreak of the bloody civil war five years ago. Only up to 10,000 of them reportedly remain in the war-ravaged country now. Many are said to be unable to flee the war zone or simply have nowhere to go.
Fighting in and around Aleppo intensified in February as Syrian government troops backed Russian warplanes began making major gains there, sending tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing towards the Turkish border.