(RFE/RL) – Armenia said it will send humanitarian aid to Syria after five ethnic Armenian civilians were reportedly killed in Aleppo on Friday amid fierce fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels.
“We are deeply concerned over the recent escalation of the military situation in Syria,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“The deplorable use of weaponry against the civilian population of Aleppo, including of the Armenian district, that resulted in numerous human losses is a matter of particular concern,” read the statement. “We express our deep condolences and support to the families and relatives of the killed and wounded.”
The statement added that President Serzh Sargsyan has instructed Armenia’s government to send two planeloads of humanitarian aid to the war-ravaged country to “support the population affected by the Syrian conflict.”
It did not specify whether the aid will be delivered to Syria’s remaining Armenian community. Many of its members still live in government-controlled parts of Aleppo, the country’s formerly largest city and the epicenter of heavy fighting in the Syrian civil war.
Gun battles in and around the city continued on Friday, with the Syrian army reportedly continuing its Russian-backed offensive on rebel-held districts of Aleppo. U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a phone call on Thursday condemned what they called “barbarous” Russia and Syrian air strikes on those areas.
Kantsasar.com, an Aleppo-based Armenian publication, reported that rebel forces shelled two Armenian-populated neighborhoods of the divided city early in the morning. The shelling left 5 Syrian Armenians dead and 11 others wounded, the publication said, identifying all of those civilians.
Aleppo was home to the majority of an estimated 80,000 ethnic Armenians who lived in Syria until the outbreak of the bloody conflict five years ago. Only up to 10,000 of them reportedly remain in Middle Eastern country now. Many are said to be unable to flee the war zone or simply have nowhere to go.
More than 16,000 Syrian Armenians have taken refuge in Armenia, according to the authorities in Yerevan.
Photo Caption: Syrian civilians and rescuers gather at site of government forces air strikes in the rebel held neighborhood of Al-Shaar in Aleppo on September 27, 2016.