Clashes between government and opposition forces in Aleppo have reached the Armenian neighborhoods. The situation is changing dramatically. Misinformation about the Armenian community of Aleppo is spreading in the international and Armenian media. CivilNet contacted the speaker of the Armenian prelacy of Aleppo, Jirayr Reyisian, to obtain more accurate information about the situation.
CivilNet – There are clashes in the Armenian neighborhood of Nor Gyugh (“al-Midan” in Arabic) between the opposition fighters and government forces. What is the attitude and the position of the Armenians on both sides?
J.R. – Armenians have only taken up their basic needs, their security and protection for themselves while the conflicting sides are fighting among themselves.
CivilNet – Are there many injuries during the clashes?
J.R. – That is natural. There will be injuries, even victims, but luckily we have not had serious injuries or damages yet.
CivilNet – The Daily Telegraph published an article, which says that Armenians are getting armed by the government and fighting against the opposition. How do you explain this?
J.R. – The government created some local armed groups for the defense of neighborhoods. They have light arms and there are very few Armenians among them. However, the Armenian community does not advocate these groups, and the community does not have any connections with them. The Armenian community is not responsible for them. We want to solve the conflict with peaceful measures through dialogue.
CivilNet – In our previous conversation you have said that the Armenian community adopted a neutral status, but do you have enough power to maintain your stance?
J.R. – The community is not only neutral, but also peaceful. The community wants Syria to reclaim its normal pace of development as soon as possible, so that people continue living their normal lives. No one has a problem with, or against, our community. Logically, they would not have to, but when we have accidental victims, injuries, or damaged buildings, that is outside our will.
CivilNet – In case of refugees, has the community prepared any facilities or conditions for them?
J.R. – Yes. We have announced that the Armenian community of Aleppo with all its associations and organizations formed the “Syrian Armenian First Aid Body for Emergencies”. They have made all the preparations and they are ready for every unexpected event, whether if it is medical treatment or anything else.
CivilNet – Are there any calls for Armenians to leave their homes and neighborhoods?
J.R. – Absolutely not.
CivilNet – If the situation changes dramatically, are Armenians ready to defend themselves?
J.R. – If we have any unanticipated situation, a solution will be found under those circumstances definitely.
CivilNet – Do we have a clear number of Armenian casualties?
J.R. – There were some Armenians in the mandatory military service, who were martyred. There were also a few innocent civilians, but we don’t have a fix number at this moment, because they happened in different times.
CivilNet – Do you have any connections with the opposition forces, or do you foresee contact?
J.R. – We don’t have any specific connection, and it is not up to us to reach them. They haven’t suggested that communication either. In other words, we have not had contact. In any case, Armenians aren’t related or concerned with any of the conflicting sides.
CivilNet – Are you ready to establish any contact with the opposition if that becomes necessary?
J.R. – If that becomes necessary, it might also be possible.