Russia urged the UN Security Council to discuss the situation in Syria’s Christian majority town of Kessab, after Al-Qaeda-linked militants reportedly attacked the town, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.
“The UN Security Council should discuss the situation in Kessab and give it a principled evaluation,” it stated. “We condemn extremists’ actions in Syria. We believe that the Syrian government and the opposition should join efforts to eradicate terrorism on the Syrian land.”
On March 21, jihadists reportedly crossed into Syria from Turkey and seized the town in Latakia province, home to over 2,000 ethnic Armenians. The attack caused hundreds of local families, mainly Armenian, to flee their homes and seek shelter in the city of Latakia.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry noted that there were no military objects on the attacked territory and added that the only fault of the families, who were forced to flee, was their loyalty to Syria’s government.
Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, told RT Arabic that Syria is hoping the UN will help resolve the situation in Kessab. In the past week, Syria sent five letters to the UN Security Council and the General Secretary. “These letters contain detailed information about Turkish direct involvement in the crisis by providing protection to terrorist groups that are operating in the Kessab area,” Jaafari said.
He further added that military groups managed to get to Kessab under the cover of Turkish artillery strikes, Turkish aviation, and tanks, which were all used as a distraction.
“This allowed the terrorists to avoid direct clashes with the Syrian army...unleashed [the terrorists’] hands to carry out their heinous, unspeakable crimes.”
Earlier, the Armenian government also called on the UN to protect Kessab, evoked the Armenian genocide of 1915, and accused Turkey of allowing jihadists cross its border to attack Kessab. In turn, Ankara slammed the accusations and condemned the charge as “confrontational political propaganda.”
The attack on Kessab was reportedly carried out by fighters from the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group in Syria, and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham brigade, part of the Islamic Front alliance.
Earlier this week, the Syrian army launched an operation to force the militants out of the town.
The situation escalated on March 23 when Turkey shot down a Syrian Air Force jet at the Kessab crossing. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the plane was intercepted after it violated his country’s airspace.
In response, Damascus accused Ankara of “blatant aggression,” saying the fighter jet had been over Syria. The Syrian pilot said a Turksih aircraft fired a missile at him while he was pursuing terrorists within Syrian territories, SANA news agency reported.