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AYF of Canada to hold protests at the Turkish Consulate of Toronto and UN Offices in Montreal

The Armenian Youth Federation of Canada (AYF Canada) organizes demonstrations at the Consulate of Turkey in Toronto and at the United Nations ICAO Offices today. Hundreds of Armenian-Canadians from across Canada will gather at both protest sites and will hold demonstrations voicing their concern over Turkey’s role in the destruction of the northwestern Syrian town of Kessab, whose predominantly civilian Armenian population was forced to evacuate to avoid slaughter this past weekend, and call upon the international community to intervene and secure the lives of Christian and other ethnic minorities being persecuted.

Located in the northwestern corner of Syria, near the border with Turkey, Kessab had, until very recently, avoided major battles in the Syrian conflict. The historically Armenian populated town had also served as a safe-haven for Armenians fleeing from the war-torn cities of Yacubiye, Rakka and Aleppo. On the morning of March 21st, extremist foreign fighters launched a vicious attack on Kessab civilians, forcing them to flee to neighbouring Latakia and Bassit. Subsequent attacks occurred on March 22nd and 23rd and included the mass looting of local residences and the desecration of Armenian Churches in the area. Around 700 Christian families have been displaced, while others are being held hostage in their own homes by rebels who have invaded and established residence.

Sources confirm that the onslaught on Kessab was launched from Turkey by foreign fighters affiliated with an extremist wing of the al-Qaeda terrorist group. Attackers wounded during fighting were returned to Turkey for medical treatment. Turkey also shot down a Syrian military plane which had flown to the border village to subdue the insurgence.

The protestors will call upon Turkey to take all steps necessary to secure its border and prevent any incursions into Syrian territory. They will demand from Turkey to explicitly disavow its support of all al Qaeda affiliated groups in the region and to ensure that these groups are expelled from its territory immediately. Additionally, the protestors will demand that the UN, NATO and the international community put pressure on Turkey and to call upon all sides to the Syrian conflict to immediately cease hostilities in the region and allow the return of the civilian population

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