QAMISHLI — Armenian Catholic priest Fr Hovsep Bidoyan was murdered on Monday, 11th November at the entrance of a church in eastern Syria.

Both Fr Hovsep Bidoyan, head of the Armenian Catholic Church in Qamishli, and his biological father were killed during a visit to the Armenian Catholic Church in Deir ez-Zor, in eastern Syria. The priest and his father had been on their way to “supervise the restoration” of a church when they were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), UK-based war monitor.

The Armenian community in Syria, whose current numbers are unknown, are the survivors of the Ottoman genocide of the Armenians in the early twentieth century. Driven into Syria by the notorious “death marches”, many eventually ended up settling in the country.

The Islamic State group (ISIS) on Monday claimed responsibility for the gunning down of the Priest and his father just hours after the shooting took place.

ISIS claimed Monday afternoon via its Telegram channels to have killed “two Christian priests” in al-Zir village, in the al-Busayrah sub-district of Deir ez-Zor.

The al-Busayrah area has seen ISIS sleeper cells ramp up their activities against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and their local allies as of late.

The increase mirrors an uptick in ISIS activity across northern Syria in recent months, particularly since Turkey and Turkish-backed forces launched “Operation Peace Spring” – targeting the SDF and their local allies – early last month.

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