Magazine article The Christian Century

Armenia Struggles to Absorb Christian Refugees from Syria

Magazine article The Christian Century

Armenia Struggles to Absorb Christian Refugees from Syria

Article excerpt

Sarkiss Rshdouni escaped the fighting in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo months ago but cannot shake memories of what he witnessed.

"I was with a friend when I heard gunshots," said Rshdouni, who is among hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the war in his homeland. "It was fast--second by second, the sound was getting closer. I saw mass shooting, people running."

Aleppo is home to more than 80 percent of Syria's Armenian community, and those who are still there remain at the center of the battle for control of the country.

Syrian rebels recently pushed back army defenses and moved closer to the country's second-largest airport just outside Aleppo. The airport stopped commercial flights weeks ago because of the fighting, but it is used by Syrian president Bashar Assad's military to resupply troops and launch airstrikes against rebel positions.

The uprising against Assad, which erupted nearly two years ago, has left more than 2 million people internally displaced and pushed 650,000 more to seek refuge abroad in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Aleppo, Syria's largest city, has been engulfed in fighting for months between government forces and opposition militias, including al-Qaeda-allied extremists. …

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