THE pastor of the Armenian Catholic community in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli, in north-east Syria near the border with Turkey and his father were murdered this week.
The priest, Fr Hovsep Bedoyan, and his father, Abraham Bedoyan, were shot dead on Monday. The attack was claimed by Islamic State (IS), reports say.
The men were travelling from Qamishli to Deir Ezzour to monitor reconstruction work on an Armenian Catholic church that had been destroyed by IS. They were accompanied by Deacon Fati Sano, from the Armenian al-Hassakeh Church, who was injured in the attack.
Speaking to the RC charity Aid to the Church in Need about the attack on Fr Bedoyan, the Armenian Catholic Archbishop Boutros Marayati of Aleppo said: “The war in Syria is not yet over. We continue to feel the presence of ISIS.”
He continued: “Christians are afraid: with every new outbreak of violence, many families are deciding to emigrate.
“Before the war, there were 5000 Armenian Catholics, and five churches in Qamishli. Today, they are just 2000, and only two churches remain open.
“I beg you to pray for us and for our people, because at present we are living through extremely difficult times.”
More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians lived in Syria, especially in the north-west, before the country’s civil war. Many have fled Syria as refugees.
The chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas, said on Wednesday: “We urge the Turkish government to halt its military aggression in north-east Syria and focus its efforts on combating the surge in extremism and terrorism, which is affecting every community in the region.”
On Monday, it was reported that six people were killed in two bombings near Qamishli, one of them close to a Chaldean church.