YEREVAN — Armenia’s foreign ministry released a statement on Thursday condemning Turkey’s military invasion into Syria’s north-eastern territory, warning that the offensive will “lead to deterioration of regional security, losses among civilians, mass displacement and eventually to a new humanitarian crisis. The plight of ethnic and religious minorities is of particular concern.
This military invasion also creates an imminent threat of identity based grave and massive violations of human rights.
Armenia calls for effective international measures aimed at halting this military invasion, preventing mass atrocities and protecting the population of Syria bordering Turkey.
Armenia supports the unity and sovereignty of Syria and urges to refrain from military offensive against Syria and its people. Armenia will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the friendly people of Syria on the ground”. Reads the ministry statement.
Also on Thursday the Armenian government held an an emergency meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to discuss the Turkish invasion into Syria.
“We are concerned about the situation because we believe that action will further deepen the humanitarian crisis in Syria,” Pashinyan said at the start of the cabinet meeting in Yerevan.
“We are calling on the international community to take meaningful measures to stop that illegal action and protect Syrian citizens, including ethnic minorities, along the Turkish border,” he added before discussing the matter with government members in closed session.
Pashinyan also made clear that the Armenian military will continue its small-scale “humanitarian mission” in Syria closely coordinated with Russia. Yerevan deployed more than 80 demining experts, army medics and other non-combat military personnel in and around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in February.
According to a senior Armenian Foreign Ministry official, Armen Melkonyan, around 3,000 Syrian Armenians currently live in the northeastern city of Qamishli close to the Turkish border.
“Qamishli was shelled yesterday but most of the city is under Syrian government control,” Melkonyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I don’t think that the Turkish invasion will reach areas controlled by the Syrian authorities.”
“Our embassy in Damascus is in constant touch with the leadership of the [local Armenian] community and they do not want to be evacuated yet because they don’t see a danger at the moment,” said Melkonyan. Nevertheless, he added, the embassy and the Armenian consulate in Aleppo are making contingency plans for a mass evacuation of local Syrian Armenians.
In Melkonyan’s words, on Thursday morning 13 Armenian families fled their homes in the town of Tel Abyad, one of the reportedly four points of Turkish troops’ entry into Syria. Tel Abyad had 16 Armenian families before the Turkish incursion, said the diplomat.