Three Bombs Rip Through Christian Quarter of Syrian City

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

More than a dozen people were killed as suicide bombers struck three restaurants in the Assyrian and Syriac Christian quarter of Qamishli, Syria during the evening Christmas celebrations.

12/30/2015 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a coordinated attack on three restaurants in Qamishli, Syria has left more than 16 dead and dozens more wounded. The attacks targeted Assyrian and Syriac Christian owned restaurants during Christmas celebrations.

“My father’s cousin saw a man walk into the front of the Miami restaurant and pull at his belt and then he exploded,” Helma Adde, an Assyrian American told ICC. The second attack happened minutes later at the Gabriel restaurant and the third across town ten or fifteen minutes later.

Aboud, her father’s cousin was sitting in the Miami restaurant with his son and son-in-law when the first of the three bombs exploded, shortly after 9:00 p.m. local time.  His son-in-law was killed in the blast, his son wounded and still in the hospital as of Wednesday night. Aboud witnessed three people who were killed by the blast, Adde recounted.

Qamishli, a town that sits on the Syria-Turkish border, has been a relative safe haven in the midst of the nearly five-year-old conflict. It has been a place of refuge for Christians and others who’ve been attacked in neighboring areas, such as Khabour and Hassakeh. The town is largely controlled by Kurdish and Assyrian militias.

The attacks came in the midst of a week of Christmas celebrations and targeted a street in the Christian corner that was filled with families out eating and spending time together.

Some accounts linked with ISIS or the so-called Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the attack, but it has not been confirmed, RT reports. The attack is certainly in line with their past operations in Iraq and Syria and comes as they’ve faced increased pushback in Iraq and in Syria.

While many Christians have fled Syria during the course of the war, there are many who are committed to staying in Syria and simply want to see peace return to their land. “These cousins have never wanted to leave Syria, they were comfortable there, they had businesses, life was good they wanted to stay,” Adde said. “Then one son in law spent six months in prison and then had to fled the country, now another has been killed by these bombs,” she continued.

“It feels like this is it for them,” Adde said, reflecting on conversations with close family and many Christians in the region. Helma Adde is a producer and subject of the forthcoming documentary Our Last Stand focused on the plight of Christians in Syria and Iraq

“An important step is to officially recognize what is happening as a genocide,” said Adde, an issue brought back into the news following a statement from Hillary Clinton at a campaign stop on Tuesday night.

“If this happens the U.S. will be obligated to protect Christians and provide the needed aid for these communities. In the long term, without a protected safe haven in the region, our homelands will be emptied of Christians,” Adde continued.

Todd Daniels, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “These latest attacks on Christians in Syria have once again shown the vulnerability that Christians face. They face not just the threat of war in general, but specific targeting of Christian communities. Dozens of churches and religious properties have been destroyed, clergy and laity have been kidnapped, and now celebrations targeted. As world leaders debate over a course of action and negotiate the peace process for the future of Syria, foremost among their concerns ought to be the fate of the Christian and other minority communities. Any agreement that does not enable religious and ethnic minorities to peacefully live in their homelands will ultimately fall apart. We’re heartbroken to hear once again of more death and destruction for Christians in Syria and call for both words and actions that will make a difference.”

 

For interviews with Todd Daniels, ICC’s Middle East Regional Manager, contact Olivia Miller, Press Manager: press@persecution.org

 

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