MINORITY REPORT: United Arab Emirates-based television channel AlAan discussed the plight of Syria’s Armenian Christians in a report Monday, a week after 60 rebel fighters from greater Damascus announced the formation of an Armenian battalion under the banner of the Free Syrian Army-affiliated Syrian Revolutionaries Front.
“We hoped to influence the regime through peaceful means,” said a masked rebel backed by ten armed men, in a March 16th video announcing the battalion’s formation.
“We have executed effective operations against the Syrian regime, inflicting heavy losses,” the leader adds.
Yaman Shuwaf, an AlAan correspondent, reported speaking with an Armenian-Christian activist in the city of a-Raqqa who told him of rebel overtures to the Christian community. “After rebel groups liberated a-Raqqa, they demanded I ask the Christians who had fled the city to return,” said the activist, who added rebel groups asked Christians to rebuild their churches. In January, the Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham seized control of a-Raqqa, imposing its harsh brand of Sunni Islam on minorities in the province.
The brigade’s formation preceded a rebel offensive in Syria’s northwestern Latakia province, which Syrian state media reports has displaced large numbers of Armenian Christians from the town of Kasab along Syria’s border with Turkey. The official SANA news agency also reported Monday that Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan had thanked the Syrian government for protecting those Armenians who have been displaced by the fighting in Kasab, drawing parallels with persecution of Kasab Armenians in the early 20th century.