Despite a fragile truce helped by both US and Russian efforts, at least 19 people have been killed and scores injured this week in continued shelling in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
Coinciding with the 101st anniversary of the Turkish genocide of Armenians and other Christians, areas of notable Christian presence in the city came under attack starting Monday (April 25).
Seventeen Armenians including 3 children and a woman were killed when, according to Asia News, “Islamic terrorists launched a series of heavy bomb attacks from areas not under government control” on districts of Aleppo, including Suleymaniye and Ashrafieh.
Corroborating the reports, The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) said Christian and Kurdish neighbourhoods have come under attack and a number of children have been killed.
“Turkish forces fighting together with the so-called opposition have been fighting the regime’s army for a couple of days now,” said Nuri Kino, an Assyrian activist and founder of Demand for Action (ADFA).
“But what people could not see coming was the attacks against Christian neighbourhoods,” he said, confirming that Kurdish and Christian children were killed in the fighting.
AINA quoted another Assyrian currently in Aleppo as saying: “We were praying that we could get some rest from the war, that it is over! Just weeks ago we started to get normal life back. Now, we have lost all hope, we just want out of here. There is no one to protect us.”
There is confusion about the exact number of casualties, presumably climbing due to continued hostilities.
Elsewhere in the city, at least another 14 people were killed Thursday in an air strike on a hospital, with local sources blaming Syrian or Russian war planes, although the Syrian military has denied targeting the hospital.
According to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 60 civilians, including women and children, have been killed in air strikes targeting areas controlled by factions in the eastern neighbourhoods of the city, as well as in shelling by the rebel and Islamic factions on regime forces’ controlled areas in the western neighbourhoods of Aleppo – where Christians can be found.
The Syrian Observatory talked of cross shelling in general, but did not mention any Christians when speaking about targeted areas under regime control.
Reports also spoke of sniper attacks and extensive damage to properties.
The official Syrian news agency SANA listed the areas targeted as Aazamiya, Masharfeh, Suleymaniye, Muhafaza, Jameeliya, Azeeziya, Bab al-Faraj and Suleiman al-Halabi, citing continued hostilities.
The squeezing of the remaining Christians by shelling and other pressures have raised the temper among the areas’ inhabitants against both the Assad regime and Turkey, as well as against the Islamic jihadists whom the latter is accused of supporting.
“Enough! Do something that goes beyond the words of support and promises to defend the Christians! Turkey is continuing the genocide of our people here in Aleppo!” Asia News quoted an angry Christian saying.