BBC: Armenians flee Syria for their ancestral homeland

“A century after their ancestors fled mass killings in Ottoman Turkey, Armenian communities are again on the move – amid fears they could become victims of violence in Syria, the BBC writes.

Damien McGuinness writes in an article titled “Armenians flee Syria for their ancestral homeland” that many Armenians are now finding their lives in Syria untenable – alarmed by the on-going war, and terrified of what may come next.

“As Christians, some fear for their futures if Islamist rebels take control,” the author writes, reminding that “President Bashar al-Assad, and his father before him, has traditionally been tolerant towards non-Muslim minorities.”

More than 10,000 have fled here since the fighting started two years ago – and 7,000 have applied for residency.

Aleppo, which is home to most of Syria’s 100,000 Armenians, has seen some of the heaviest fighting. People fleeing the city say the street battles and the bombings have become too dangerous. Armenians, who are traditionally middle-class merchants, say their businesses are being ruined by the chaos of war.

“But when you ask Armenians which side they want to win the war in Syria, they avoid expressing support for either the rebels or the government – and tell you they only want peace,” Damien McGuinness notes.

“Not far from the restaurant in central Yerevan, a class of small children are following the Syrian school curriculum, reading textbooks in Arabic. That is because this school of 300 pupils was set up specifically for the children of ethnic Armenians from Syria. Their parents hope to return with them to Syria when the fighting dies down.”

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