April 4, 2014 - 12:55 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - At their meeting in Moscow on Thursday, April 3, the foreign ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) voiced deep concern over the dramatic deterioration of the situation in the northwest of Syria after clashes between government troops and al-Qaeda-linked extremist groups, which resulted in the loss of life and forced relocation of thousands of people from the Armenian-populated city of Kessab, ITAR-TASS reported.
“We strongly condemn the acts of terror and the use of force against the peaceful population,” the ministers said in a statement. “We call for stopping the violence as soon as possible and ensuring the safe return of refugees. We are convinced that the situation can be normalised only by excluding external interference and violence and by conducting a broad political dialogue that will take into account the interests of all Syrians regardless of their ethnic or religious background,” the document said.
The ministers urged all parties interested and concerned to act in strict compliance with international law in order to stop the bloodshed and achieve a political settlement in Syria in accordance with the Geneva communique of June 30, 2012.
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. There are approximately 60 families living in refuge in the Armenian Apostolic Church in Latakia, sleeping wherever there is space in the facility.