March 31, 2014 - 12:18 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Reaction to tragic events in the Armenian-populated Syrian town of Kessab is gaining momentum worldwide, with media abounding in reports of the militants’ atrocities. Political, social and cultural figures across the world continue condemning the attacks.
Actions to raise the Kessab tragedy awareness are held on the internet, with social networks opening #SaveKessab groups.
A petition to stop the massacre of all the innocent people in Syria and Kessab was posted on the We the People White House petitions webpage on March 28 and already collected over 10 thousand signatures. The U.S. congress will study the petition in case of 100000 signatures collected.
Also, a signature campaign for an address to the UN chief Ban Ki-Moon to prevent a new genocide is ongoing, with over 19 thousand signatures collected out of 20 thousand necessary.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said it possesses no data regarding casualties.
Syrian forces have continued their military operations against infiltration attempts by foreign-backed insurgents across the country. Syrian army units targeted members of an armed insurgent group in al-Sa’en area in the eastern countryside of Hama. Army troops made further advances in the town of al-Mishirfi near Yabroud. The army also destroyed a vehicle equipped with heavy machinegun and a huge amount of weaponry and munitions in eastern al-Zabadani and killed a number of insurgent elements. In the industrial city of Adra, meanwhile, Syrian troops followed up on earlier operations against armed militants in an around the city. Meanwhile, a military source cited in a SANA report stated that army units targeted insurgents’ staging areas in Solas village, Bab al-Amaniyeh, the area surrounding Point 45, Kessab and near al-Samra village, inflicting heavy blows on the foreign-sponsored militants.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was joined by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Michael Grimm (R-NY), Armenian Genocide Resolution Lead Sponsors David Valadao (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Representatives Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA) and James McGovern (D-MA) in condemning the recent attacks against the historically Armenian city of Kessab, Syria, urging the State Department to investigate the incursion and take immediate action to safeguard the vulnerable population, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
In a letter to constituents, Chairman Menendez stated, "Like you, I am gravely concerned by reports of a March 21, 2014 attack on the predominantly Syrian Armenian town of Kessab, near the Turkish border, by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists based in Turkey. Attacks of this nature are another example of a dangerous new chapter in the violence now engulfing Syria; one where Syrian minorities are actively targeted by Islamic extremists because of their religion and ethnicity. I condemn all such attacks, including those on Armenian Christians."
In a joint letter to President Obama, Representatives Pallone, Grimm, Valadao and Schiff echoed these concerns, noting "When coupled with a mass exodus of the Armenian community, these events are far too reminiscent of the early days of the Armenian Genocide, which took place nearly 100 years ago in Ottoman Turkey under the cover of World War I." The letter goes on to state, "With the Christian Armenian community being uprooted from its homeland, yet again, we strongly urge you to take all necessary measures without delay to safeguard the Christian Armenian community of Kessab. We also believe that now is the time to redouble America’s efforts to ensure that all minority communities at risk in the Middle East are afforded greater protection."
In a statement followed by a question and answer session during the daily State Department press briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf began, "We are deeply troubled by recent fighting and violence that is endangering the Armenian community in Kasab, Syria and has forced many to flee. There are far too many innocent civilians suffering as a result of the war. All civilians, as well as their places of worship, must be protected." Harf continued to note, "We have long had concerns about the threat posed by violent extremists and this latest threat to the Armenian community in Syria only underscores this further."
Located in the northwestern corner of Syria, near the border with Turkey, Kessab had, until very recently, evaded major battles in the Syrian conflict. The local Armenian population had increased in recently years with the city serving as safe-haven for those fleeing from the war-torn cities of Yacubiye, Rakka and Aleppo. On the morning of March 21 extremist foreign fighters launched a vicious attack on Kessab civilians, forcing them to flee neighboring Latakia and Bassit.