Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (Sarkis Baharoglu photo)

Armenia Condemns Turkey’s Military Invasion of Syria

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YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — Armenia condemned the Turkish invasion of Syria, according to a message from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, released on October 10. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also called on the international community to take every measure to stop the Turkish invasion.

Armenia’s diplomatic mission in Syria has organized an urgent evacuation of compatriots in the line of fire, especially from the cities of Tel Abyad and Kamyshly.

Turkey launched a military operation in northeast Syria to create a “safe zone” along its borders. The attack hit more than 200 targets using heavy weapons, including aircraft and artillery. Washington said it would not obstruct the Turkish military, and began to withdraw its troops from this territory.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia in a statement said, “This invasion will lead to a further deterioration of regional security, as well as civilian casualties, a large flow of displaced people and, ultimately, a new humanitarian crisis.”

In addition, the situation is creating conditions for severe and large-scale human rights violations against another ethnic group, the MFA said.

“Armenia calls for effective international efforts to end this military invasion, prevent mass atrocities and protect the Syrian population on the border of Turkey,” the statement concluded.

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Armenia has offered its continued humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people.

Yerevan has delivered humanitarian assistance to Damascus since the start of the war. The assistance is for civilians suffering from the fighting.

Armenia’s humanitarian mission in Syria continues, with Armenian doctors and engineers fulfilling their daily responsibilities.

Armenia has emphasized that its presence in Syria is one of peacebuilding only through humanitarian activities.

“Assistance will be provided exclusively outside the combat zone. Armenian specialists will carry out humanitarian activities such as clearing mines and educating local people about the mines, as well as the provision of medical care in Aleppo,” declared Armenia’s press secretary for the Ministry of Defense, Artsrun Hovhannisyan.

After the completion of the active phase of hostilities in Syria in February 2019, Armenia sent a humanitarian mission there. There is a group of engineers and doctors – 83 people in total.

Armenia’s government decided that citizens of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq could receive Armenian citizenship in their respective countries.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Avet Adonts explained that in 2012, the government made a similar decision, and citizens of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq could obtain citizenship and passports in the embassies or consulates of Armenia in these countries. However, that policy was only in place until December 31, 2018. Adonts noted that: “Given the internal situation and the tension in these countries, it is necessary to extend this decision so that citizens of these countries can obtain Armenian passports at the embassies and consulates of their countries through December 31, 2019.”

Armenia is ready to help evacuate ethnic Armenian residents of northern Syria affected by Turkey’s military operations conducted there, a senior official in Yerevan said.

Armen Grigorian, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, briefed lawmakers on potential government actions at a meeting held in the National Assembly

behind the closed doors. Grigorian said afterwards that Yerevan stands ready to take in ethnic Armenian refugees from the area attacked by Turkish troops.

“We have not yet made an official proposal,” Grigorian told reporters. “As you know, not only is the issue at the center of the government’s attention but also our embassy and consulate [in Syria] are in touch with leaders of the [Armenian] community. If there is such a desire [to relocate to Armenia] we will definitely take all measures and provide all necessary means.”

But he added that none of the local Syrian Armenians has so far expressed a desire to take refuge in Armenia.

The precise number of Armenians remaining in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled regions is not known. A senior Armenian Foreign Ministry official said on Thursday that around 3,000 of them live in the northeastern town of Qamishli close to the Turkish border.

Catholicos Urges End to Bloodshed

Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II stressed that the Holy See of Echmiadzin expects urgent and practical steps to prevent the further bloodshed.

“The danger of attacks by Turkey against the ethnic minorities and Syrian-Armenians in particular awaken the recollections of Armenian Genocide carried out by the same state in 1915-23. These actions must be strictly condemned by the international community,” Karekin II wrote, stressing that he shares the pain and suffering of the Syrian people and prays for soonest establishment of peace.

He stressed that the current developments do not have any justification.

(Material from Armenpress, RFE/RL and government news sources were used to compile this report.)

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