The Foreign Ministry of Armenia has strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Syria as a result of which two Armenian priests were killed.
Unknown gunmen shot dead an Armenian Catholic priest and his father as they were traveling in a car in northeastern Syria on November 11.
Father Hovsep Petoian, the head of the Armenian Catholic community in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli near the border with Turkey, and his father, Father Hana Abraham Petoian, were heading to the province of Deir Al-Zor when they came under attack.
The two men were due to oversee the restoration of a church in Deir ez-Zor. A third man, a deacon from the town of Al-Hasakeh, was reportedly wounded in the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the terrorist act committed in the Deir ez-Zor province of Syria, which claimed the lives of two priests,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said, stressing that the clergymen “lost their lives while serving the war-torn community of Deir ez-Zor.”
“The military invasion in the north-east of Syria last month and the subsequent resurgence of terrorist groups and their activities make the civilian population, including ethnic and religious minorities, particularly vulnerable. The ongoing identity-based persecutions and killings should be decisively condemned by the international community.
“We express our deepest condolences and sympathy to the relatives of the victims, the Armenian Catholic community and to all Syrian Armenians and wish them fortitude, endurance and strength of spirit in overcoming this tragic incident.
“Armenia will continue its humanitarian support to contribute to the stabilization of the humanitarian situation in Syria,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Tuesday.
In a Twitter post on Tuesday Pope Francis also expressed sympathy over the killing of the Catholic priests in Syria.
“I am close to Armenian Catholics of Qamishli, in Syria, as they gather for the funeral of their parish priest, Father Hovsep Bedoyan (Petoian), who was killed yesterday together with his father. I pray for them, their families, and for all Christians in Syria,” the Pope wrote.
More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians lived in Syria, mainly in the northwestern province of Aleppo, prior to the Syrian civil war. Many of them have fled, including thousands to Armenia.
IS militants persecuted Christians and displaced tens of thousands of them when it ruled large parts of Iraq and Syria.