Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was joined by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Michael Grimm (R-NY), Armenian Genocide Resolution Lead Sponsors David Valadao (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Representatives Brad Sherman (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA) and James McGovern (D-MA) in condemning the recent attacks against the historically Armenian city of Kessab, Syria, urging the State Department to investigate the incursion and take immediate action to safeguard the vulnerable population, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“We would like to thank Chairman Menendez and the many other Congressional defenders of human rights who have stepped forward to call the world’s urgent attention to the attacks against the predominantly Armenian population of Kessab,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. ”We look forward to working with each of them to ensure that Turkey’s role is explicitly condemned by our government, as we continue efforts to secure the safety and return of Kessab’s civilian residents to their ancestral homes.”
In a letter to constituents, Chairman Menendez stated, “Like you, I am gravely concerned by reports of a March 21, 2014 attack on the predominantly Syrian Armenian town of Kessab, near the Turkish border, by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists based in Turkey. Attacks of this nature are another example of a dangerous new chapter in the violence now engulfing Syria; one where Syrian minorities are actively targeted by Islamic extremists because of their religion and ethnicity. I condemn all such attacks, including those on Armenian Christians.”
In a joint letter to President Obama, Representatives Pallone, Grimm, Valadao and Schiff echoed these concerns, noting “When coupled with a mass exodus of the Armenian community, these events are far too reminiscent of the early days of the Armenian Genocide, which took place nearly 100 years ago in Ottoman Turkey under the cover of World War I.” The letter goes on to state, “With the Christian Armenian community being uprooted from its homeland, yet again, we strongly urge you to take all necessary measures without delay to safeguard the Christian Armenian community of Kessab. We also believe that now is the time to redouble America’s efforts to ensure that all minority communities at risk in the Middle East are afforded greater protection.”
Senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Rep. Brad Sherman stated that he has “been in contact with the State Department and have urged them to take the necessary actions to assist the Armenians in Syria. Turkey must take immediate action to help prevent extremist attacks on Armenian civilians.”
Rep. James McGovern, Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, explained, “I strongly condemn the brutal attacks on the Armenian-populated town of Kessab by al-Qaeda affiliated armed bands.” He went on to note that he is “deeply concerned by the reports that these attacks allegedly originated in Turkey and demand that the United States and international community conduct a thorough and critical investigation of these claims.”
Central California Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), in a letter to his constituents, wrote, “As you may know, al Qaeda-linked terrorists attacked Armenians and other Christians in the Syrian town of Kessab, Syria six days ago. These attacks are deplorable, and I have made clear to the State Department that we must determine exactly what happened and continue to work with our allies to prevent such atrocities from happening again.”