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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

KESSAB CHURCHES BURNED AND GRAVES DESTROYED

11:54AM GMT 04 Jan 2015

Syrian insurgents once claimed to be protecting ancient churches in the historical Armenian village of Kessab, but the reality was rather different

Protected by mountains, the idyllic Armenian village of Kessab was initially sheltered fromSyria’s brutal civil war.
But, residents say, last spring Turkey opened the borders it shares with the town, allowing Syrian rebel groups, with whom they are allied, to invade.
Rebels first purported to show their “moderate” religious credentials by protecting Kessab’s Christian residents and heritage.
But very quickly, things changed, as crosses were shot and churches set on fire.
The desecration of religious sites in Kessab is some of the most wholesale seen in the Syrian war.
In the Armenian Evangelical church, fire destroyed the library, floor tiles were smashed, pews and cushions all incinerated.
There was no sign of damage from tank fire. Whoever started the fire, did so from inside.
After they had finished, the perpetrators signed their names on the walls.
Some were from al-Qaeda, others were rebels who have received money and weapons from the west.
Outside, the graves of the cemetery had been individually destroyed.
Far from inspiring confidence in those fighting to oust the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, the attack summoned bitter memories of persecution for the 2500 Armenians who fled their homes.
Kessab was the scene of Armenian genocide of 1915 that saw 5000 of their people slaughtered at the hands of the ottoman empire.
For now the rebels have been repelled, and the Turkish border posts that surround the town have been closed. But Kessab’s residents wonder for how long.

More here