MOSCOW—The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday issued a statement condemning the attack on the Armenian population of Kessab and the role of extremist, Islamist militants in the region. Below is the text obtained from the Russian Foreign Ministry:
“The situation in Syria has been characterized lately by the aggravation of confrontation between government forces and illegal armed formations (IAFs) attempting to take revenge for the recent series of defeats.
“The main confrontations are being observed in the north-west of Syria. On the 21 March al-Qaeda linked units of Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, numbering several thousand, attacked the region of the City of Kasab [sic] on the border with Turkey, where the majority of the population are Armenians. The attack of IAFs (according to Damascus) with artillery support, including the use of tank guns from the territory of Turkey, has led to the temporary loss of several populated areas, including Kasab. Fearing atrocities by terrorists, the Armenian population from Kasab, Samra, Nabva Al-Mur and nearby populated areas left their homes and moved to Latakia protected by Syrian military personnel.
“The movement of extremists to Latakia located some 65 km from Kasab, which also threatened to disrupt the international operation to remove components of chemical weapons from Syria, was stopped. Syrian military personnel fought off fights of strategic importance from militants and in the near future intend to stop the breakthrough of armed gangs and re-establish control over the Kasab checkpoint on the border with Turkey.
“The occupation of the City of Kasab by militants aroused a resonance of condemnation from Armenian communities all over the world. A demonstration near the UN representation was organised in Yerevan, where they requested an end must be put to the persecution of ethnic and sectarian minorities by IAFs in Syria.
“At the same time, the Armenian authorities thanked the Syrian authorities for their protection of the Armenian population. The Armenian national committee of America appealed to the US President Barack Obama and the US Congress to apply pressure on Ankara to make it stop assisting militants, who attacked civilians in Kasab.
“Extremists continue to terrorise Syrian civilians systematically by non-electively mortaring cities and populated areas of the country. 2 students died and 15 received injuries of varying severity as a result of a strike by a mortar shell on a student campus in Damascus. 5 persons became victims of attacks in Homs, 6 were killed and 9 were injured in neighbourhoods of the capital Dahiat al-Asad, Harasta, Mezze and Abu-Roumana. 8 inhabitants of Latakia died as a result of a missile attack.
“According to information from Damascus, the practice of illegal trading of human organs is being spread in territories where the militants are hosts. The victims of medical traders are usually children.
“The mass media also report that the extremists have organised several training camps for teenagers, where suicide bombers are reared using these children.
“Acts of vandalism and outrage with Christian and Muslim religious sanctities continue. In the region of Ar-Raqqah, terrorists destroyed the tombs of Ammar ibn Yasir and Uwais al-Qarani, Companions of the Prophet Muhammad.
“In the context of the implementation of UNSC resolution 2139, we can note the successful functioning of the joint commission within the ambit of the SAR Government and the UN. A large shipment of aid was delivered to Kurdish regions of the country though the Nusaybin – Al-Qamishli checkpointon the border with Turkey. The operation to evacuate those who want to leave the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus is ongoing despite non-stop shooting by militants.
“We decisively denounce any terrorist attacks and other crimes against civilians, including non-elective shooting on Syrian cities and populated areas by militants. It seems that the purpose of such triggering of action by extremists is to prevent the renewal of inter-Syrian negotiations, to deprive Syrians of the opportunity of political and diplomatic settlement and to disrupt the process of chemical demilitarisation of Syria. Such a scenario is inadmissible. Russia, for its part, as before, is ready to continue its interaction with all its partners in the interests of stopping the bloody internal conflict in the SAR on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012.”