Assassination attempt on head of Syrian Orthodox Church revives ghosts of massacres past


**The ghosts of massacres past haunt the Syrian war. First the Islamists scattered the bones of the victims of the 1915 Armenian genocide of one and a half million Christians by the Ottoman Turks outside their memorial church in Deir Ezzour. Then last weekend, a suicide killer arrived at the Syriac Orthodox Church in Qamishli, a small Syrian town isolated on the northern border with Turkey but still held by regime troops, and tried to attack Christians at a church service commemorating the Assyrians’ own genocide of 250,000 – again at the hands of Turkish Ottomans – during the First World War.

His target was clearly the patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church but the clergyman’s bodyguards, members of the Assyrian Christians’ own 200-strong ‘Sotoro’ (Protect) militia, took the full force of the explosion, protecting their church leader with the loss of three of his bodyguards who were blown apart. Five others were wounded. This armed group, whose symbol is an eagle, had been shepherding their fellow Christians into the church to commemorate what Assyrians refer to as the ‘Sayfo’ (Sword) massacres – when their ancestors were slaughtered by Turks and Kurds in villages and cities inside present-day Turkey, Syria and Iran.**

This is an excellent article from last Tuesday. It continues at the link.


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