Two more ethnic Armenians were reportedly killed and three others wounded in Aleppo on Wednesday as Syrian government forces and rebels continued to battle for control of the war-ravaged city.
Zarmig Boghigian, the editor of the local Armenian-language newspaper “Kantsasar,” said the two men died as a result of fresh rebel shelling of an Armenian-populated neighborhood located in the government-controlled part of Aleppo.
“Just hours ago, armed terrorist groups fired rockets at Nor Gyugh district and two young Armenians died there,” Boghigian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “They were two friends who stood near their homes when the shelling began.”
At least six other Syrian Armenians were killed in similar circumstances last week amid an offensive launched by troops loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Armenia’s Foreign Ministry condemned on Friday “the deplorable use of weaponry against the civilian population of Aleppo, including of the Armenian districts.”
The Armenian government went on to send two planeloads of humanitarian aid to Syria. A Russian transport plane delivered on Wednesday the second batch of the aid -- mainly food and clothing -- to a Russian airbase in Hmeimim, northwestern Syria.
The bloodshed has led to renewed calls for the government to help evacuate thousands of Armenians remaining in Aleppo. Tens of thousands of others have fled the city since the start of the conflict five years ago. Some 16,000 of them have taken refuge in Armenia.
Arman Chirishian, a Syrian Armenian jeweler, moved to Yerevan with his wife and child four years ago. “People now don’t even hope that the war will end next month or next year and we will return to our homes in Aleppo,” Chirishian said on Wednesday.
“There are no safe locations in Aleppo anymore,” he said. “People there are in constant danger everywhere.”
Chirishian also suggested that many of Aleppo’s remaining Armenians would like to leave Syria for their ancestral homeland but are unable to do that.
Nazaret Aroyan, a carpet trader who relocated from Aleppo to Yerevan last year, said that even if the Armenian government evacuates them it will hardly be able to provide them with jobs in Armenia, a country that has long suffered from high unemployment.
“If they come, they’ll suffer more hardship here,” said Aroyan. “Here we pay $300 or $250 in rent every month. If we don’t work, we run out of money.”