Tue, 10 Dec 2019

YEREVAN -- Unknown gunmen have shot dead an Armenian Catholic priest and his father as they were traveling in a car in northeastern Syria.

Father Hovsep Petoian, the head of the Armenian Catholic community in the the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli near the border with Turkey, and his father, Father Abraham Petoian, were heading to the province of Deir Al-Zor when they came under attack on November 11, Deacon Hakob Parsamian told RFE/RL.

The two men were due to oversee the restoration of a church in Deir Al-Zor, the Kurdish news agency Hawar reported.

A third man, a deacon from the town of Al-Hasakeh, was reportedly wounded in the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians lived in Syria, mainly in the northwestern province of Aleppo, prior to the Syrian civil war. Many of them have fled, including thousands to Armenia.

IS militants persecuted Christians and displaced tens of thousands of them when it ruled large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Also on November 11, three bombings killed at least three people and wounded five others in Qamishli, reports said.

With reporting by Hawar, Kantsasar, AP, and AFP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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