DEIR EZ-ZOR, Syria (Public Radio of Armenia) — During the raid on al-Assad hospital in Deir ez-Zor on May 14, ISIS fighters simultaneously seized most of the Deir ez-Zor cemetery which is located a few hundred meters south of the hospital, Al-Masdar News reports.
Islamic State’s media outlet Amaq News said 10 government soldiers were killed during skirmishes at the Christian cemetery. Upon entering the cemetery, ISIS militants were quick to pose for pictures, which they sent to Amaq News to publish for propaganda reasons.
Although the provincial capital of Deir ez-Zor city is largely Sunni, the city is also home to a large Christian, mostly Armenian minority. The Christian districts are located in the government controlled western part of the city, while the Sunni suburbs are split between the Syrian Arab Army and ISIS.
Some 100,000 civilians live in government-held areas ofDeir ez-Zor, facing an ISIS-imposed siege which has caused food prices to rise some 80 percent. If the Islamic State is to capture Deir ez-Zor city entirely from the Syrian Arab Army, the Christians are expected to be massacred of expelled, similar to the scenarios in Raqqa and Mosul.
The Holy Martyrs Armenian Church in Deir ez-Zor was destroyed by the Islamic State in September 2014. 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 were gathering at the memorial every year on April 24 to commemorate the genocide.