DER ZOR, Syria (Armenian Weekly)—The Islamic State for Iraq and Syria–ISIS–forces destroyed the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Der Zor, news agencies in the Middle East reported.
The reports surfaced as Armenia was celebrating the 23rd anniversary of its independence on Sept. 21.
Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian issued a statement condemning the destruction of the church, which housed the remains of victims of the Armenian Genocide, calling it a “horrible barbarity.”
Nalbandian called upon the international community to cut the Islamic State’s sources of supply, support, and financing, and eradicate what it referred to as a disease that “threatened civilized mankind.”
The church was built in 1989-1990, and consecrated a year later. A genocide memorial and a museum housing remains of the victims of the genocide was also built in the church compound.
Thousands of Armenians from Syria and neighboring countries gathered at the memorial every year on April 24 to commemorate the genocide.
Many refer to Der Zor as the Auschwitz of the Armenian Genocide.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians perished in Der Zor and the surrounding desert during the genocide. In summer 1916 alone, more than 200,000 Armenians, mostly women and children, were brutally massacred by Ottoman Turkish gendarmes and bands from the region.