WASHINGTON—The US State Department on Friday said it was “deeply troubled” by the violence in Syria that is endangering the Armenian community in Syria.
“We are deeply troubled by recent fighting and violence that is endangering the Armenian community in Kessab, Syria, and has forced many to flee,” said State Department spokesperson Marie Harf during a press briefing on Friday.
The press conference came one day after a meeting between a delegation of Armenian community representatives led by the Armenian National Committee of America and Department of State officials, during which the State Department was urged to act immediately to end the vicious onslaught on the historically Armenian town of Kessab by al-Qaeda affiliated extremists and to confront Turkey about its complicity in aiding the extremists’ attack on Kessab. Among the participants at the meeting were Dr. Viken Hovsepian and Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.
“The United States will continue its steadfast support to those affected by violence in Syria and throughout the region, including Syrian Armenians,” Harf said in her press briefing. “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.”
Harf acknowledged the role of the ISL, al Nusra, and other al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups in the attacks and that they have targeted Armenians and other minority groups, saying, “we’re particularly concerned about these minority communities and want to make sure that their rights are protected.”
Harf made no mention, however, of the State Department’s stance on Turkey’s involvement in the attack on Kessab or their support of the belligerent extremists.
Asked about the recent leaked phone conversations between Turkish leaders, in which high level Turkish officials – including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu – are heard planning military intervention in Syria via a false flag, Harf said, “I don’t have anything for you on alleged calls or conversations that are out there among Turkish officials.”
Moreover, Harf echoed statements made by Syrian rebels that they will respect minorities.
“We have seen some statements by groups fighting in Kasab [sic.] saying they will not target civilians and will respect minorities and holy places. We expect those commitments to be upheld,” Harf said.