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The Armenians in Syria are Syrianmarker citizens of either full or partial Armenian descent. Syria and the surrounding areas have often served as a refuge for Armenians who fled from wars and persecutions such as the Armenian Genocide. According to Armenian diaspora organizations estimated that there are 150,000 Armenians in Syria, most of whom live in Aleppomarker. The village of Kasabmarker is a majority Armenian village within Syria.

History

Armenia under Tigranes the Great subjugated Syria, and chose Antiochmarker as one of the four capitals of the short lived Armenian Empire. During Antiquity, there was some Armenian presence in Northern Syria, however it wasn't a considerable one.

Christianity became the official religion of Armenia in 301 largely thanks to the efforts of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. Armenian merchants and travelers often frequented Antiochmarker, one of the earliest sites of Christian teaching and practice, and had relations with the even closer Christian centers of Edessamarker and Nisibismarker, all of which are located in Greater Syria, where Christianity flourished in apostolic times.

When the Seljuk Turks conquered Armenia from its previous Byzantine rulers, waves of Armenians left their homeland in order to find a more stable place to live. Most Armenians established themselves to Cilicia where an Armenian kingdom was founded, but some chose Northern Syria. Armenian quarters were formed in towns or cities such as Antiochmarker, Aleppomarker, Aintabmarker, etc.

During the Crusades, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia chose to side with the European invaders rather than with the mostly Turkish rulers of Syria. Prior to the Siege of Antioch, most Armenians were expelled from Antioch by Yaghi-Siyan, the Turkish governor of the city, thus the remaining Armenians of Antioch strengthened their support for the Crusaders. Thus, the new rulers of Antioch became the Europeans. Armenian engineers also helped the Crusaders during the Siege of Tyre by manipulating siege engines.

The Armenian population of Syria and its surrounding areas greatly diminished after the Mongols, Tatars, and Mamelukes took over the area by massacring the general population.

During Ottoman rule, there was a much smaller quantity of Armenians in Northern Syria because of previous conflicts. A larger community existed in Urfa, a city often considered part of Greater Syria.

Armenians in Syria (20th Century - Present)



Although the Armenians have had a long history in Syria, most arrived there during the Armenian Genocide. The main killing fields of Armenians were located in the Syrian desert of Deir ez-Zormarker(Euprathes Valley). 1.5 million Armenians were killed and hundreds of thousands fled historic Armenia. The native Arabs didn't hesitate to shelter and support persecuted Armenians.

During the rise of Arab nationalism, thousands of Armenians left the country to the United States, Canada and Australia.

Most Armenians of Syria live in Aleppomarker, while a smaller community exists in the capital city of Damascusmarker. Armenians even have their own quarter "Hayy al Arman" (Quarter of the Armenians) in Damascus.

There are Armenians also in Lattakiamarker, in Kesabmarker in the northwest, effectively an Armenian town and in Al-Hasakahmarker and Al-Qamishlimarker in the east.

Kessab, an Armenian town in Syria

Kesabmarker (Arabic: كسب, Armenian: 'Քեսապ') is a Syrianmarker border town located in Latakia Governoratemarker north west of Syria at 800 meters above and 3 kilometers from the Turkishmarker border, and 17 kilometers from the Mediterranean sea.

Kasab is an ancient Armenian town, over 1000 years old. The population today is mainly Armenian and Syrian Arab.

Deir ez-Zor and the Armenian Genocide

In 1915, the Syrian region of Deir ez-Zor, mainly a desert became a final destination of the Armenians during Armenian Genocide where they were killed. A memorial complex commemorating this tragedy was located in the city.. It was designed by Sarkis Balmanoukian and located near the Armenian Apostolic Church of Deir ez-Zor and was officially inaugurated in 1990 with the presence of the Armenian Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. The complex contains bones and remnants recovered from the Deir ez-Zor desert of Armenian victims of the Genocide and has become a pilgrim destination for many Armenians in remembrance of their dead.

Religion

Armenians in Syria are mainly Armenian Orthodox, with a minority of Armenian Catholics and Armenian Evangelicals and Armenian Latins.

Apostolic Armenians

The majority of Armenians of the Armenian Apostolic (Orthodox) faith and under the jurisdiction of the Holy See of Ciliciamarker (based in Anteliasmarker, Lebanonmarker) of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

In difference, the Diocese of Damascus pledges allegiance to the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzinmarker.

The Armenian Orthodox population in Syria belongs to one of three prelacies:

  • Diocese of Aleppo, also known as "Berio Tem" (which means the Prelacy of Beroia)
  • Diocese of Jezireh (in Al-Qamishli)
  • Diocese of Damascus


The churches include:
  • Cathedral of the Forty Martyrs marker
  • Surp Kevork Armenian Apostolic Church (Aleppo)
  • Surp Krikor Lusavorich (Saint Gregory the Illuminator) Church (Aleppo)
  • Church of the Holy Mother of God marker
  • Surp Hagop Armenian Churchmarker (located in the Syriac quarter of Aleppo)
  • Surp Hagop Armenian Apostolic Church in Al-Qamishlimarker
  • Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church in Malkiyeh (Derik)
  • Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church in Ras Al-Ayn
  • Surp Hovhannu Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church in Al-Hasakah
  • Armenian Genocide's Martyrs Memory Church of Deir ez-Zor
  • Sorp Harutyun (Holy Resurrection) Chapel of Margade village
  • Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church (Ar-Raqqahmarker)
  • Surp Khach or the church of the Holy Cross in Tal Abyad town
  • Surp Anna Church of Yakoubiyeh village
  • Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church of Lattakiamarker
  • Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church (Kesabmarker)
  • Surp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church of Karadouran village near Kesab
  • The Armenian Chapel of Keorkuneh village near Kesab
  • The Armenian Chapel of Ekizolukh village near Kesab
  • Surp Kevork (Saint George) Armenian Apostolic Church of Ghnemiyeh village
  • Surp Stepanos (Saint Stephan) Armenian Apostolic Church of Aramo village
  • Surp Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church of Damascusmarker


Catholic Armenians

Armenian Catholics belong to the Armenian Catholic Church.

The first official Armenian Catholic Prelate of the Armenians of Aleppo was the Bishop Abraham Ardzivian (1710 - 1740). IN 1740, he became the first Armenian Catholic Catholicos-Patriarch of Cilicia and was appointed by Benedict XV in 1742 in Lebanon. There have been 16 Armenian Catholic Prelates in Aleppo. At present, the number of the Catholic believers of the Eparchy of Aleppo is approximately 17000. The Eparchy is composed of six parishes.

The Armenian Catholic community in Damascus was established in 1763 in Damascus in the days of the Catholicos Michael Petros III Kasparian. In 1863, the ancient church was anointed. In 1959, the church and the archbishopric "Bab Touma" were bought. In 1969, the first bishop was nominated. Since 1984, the Armenian Catholic bishop carries the title of Patriarchal exarchate.

The Armenian Catholic churches are:
  • Notre-Dame Church of the Universe (Bab Touma, Damascus). Also has the Armenian Catholic Archbishopric and headquarters of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch.
  • Cathedral of Our Lady of Pity (Tilel, Aleppo). Its inauguration took place in 1840 and was restored the last time in 1990.
  • St. Saviour - Saint Barbara Church (Souleymanieh quarter, Aleppo). Church since 1937.
  • Holy Trinity Churchmarker (Meidan quarter, Aleppo). The consecration of the church took place in 1965, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and was restored in 1990. Its structure resembles to the one of Zvartnots and it is the work of the architect Pascal Baboudjian.
  • Holy Cross Church (Ouroubeh quarter, Aleppo)
  • Annunciation church Djebel- Saidé (Sheikh Maksoud Street, Aleppo).
  • Our Lady of the Assumption, (Baghdjaghas, Kesab region)
  • Holy Martyrs Church (Ar-Raqqaa)
  • St. Joseph Armenian Catholic Church (Al-Qamishli)
  • Ste. Famille Armenian Catholic Church (Al-Hassakeh)
  • St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Catholic Church (Deir Ez Zor)


Convents and Seminaries:
  • The convent of the Immaculate Conception Sisters (Aziziyeh, Aleppo)
  • St. Vartanants Convent (Meidan, Aleppo)
  • The convent of the Mekhitarist Fathers (New Syriac quarter, Aleppo)


Latin Armenians

The Latin Armenians have their own church:
  • The Latin Armenians' church (also convent) (Suleimaniyeh, Aleppo)


Evangelical Armenians

Armenian Evangelicals, sometimes Armenian Protestants belong to Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East of the Armenian Evangelical Church.The Armenian Evangelical churches include:

Education

Aleppo is a center of Armenian long-running schools and cultural institutions. Around 20 schools operate in the northern region of Aleppo including four secondary schools.
  • Karen Jeppe High School, established in 1947 (without elementary section)
  • Giliguian Armenian High School, established in 1921 (became secondary in 1960s)
  • AGBU Lazar Armenian Central High School, established in 1954 (Officially: Lazar Najarian-Calouste Gulbenkian Central School)
  • Gertasirats High School, estabelished in 1924 (became secondary in the beginning of the 21st century)


Elementary schools in Aleppo include:
  • Haygazian School, established in 1919, is considered a continuation of the "Tebradoun" (est. in 1876) and the Nersessian School.
  • Mesrobian Elementary School (established 1923)
  • Zavarian Elementary School, originally Nersessian School in 1925, renamed Zavarian in 1936.
  • Sahagian Elementary School, established 1927
  • Gulbenkian Elementary School, established 1930


Outside Aleppo:
  • Yeprad (Euphrates) Intermediary School, Al-Qamishli
  • Azadutyun School, Malkiyeh (Derik)
  • Mesrobian School, Al-Hassakah
  • Nahadagats School, Ras Al Ayn
  • Khorenian School, Tal Abyad
  • Noubarian School, Ar-Raqqah
  • Veradzenount School, Yakoubiyeh
  • Nahadagats School, Lattakia
  • Usumnasirats Miyatsyal School, Kesab
  • Tarkmanchats Intermediary School, Damascus
  • Usumnasirats School, Damascus
  • AGBU Gyullabi Gulbenkian School, Damascus
  • Sahakian School, Homs


Media

Syria has a rich tradition of media and publications in Armenian language. Armenian dailies all defunct now had a great run. The daily "Hay Tsayn" (1918-1919), one-every-two-days "Darakir (1918-1919) and "Yeprad" (1919) can be noted.

A stream of publications followed in the twenties and the thirties: "Suryagan Surhantag" (1919-1922), "Suryagan Mamoul (1922-1927), the dailies "Yeprad" (1927-1947), "Surya" (1946-1960) and "Arevelk" (1946-1963). The latter had also its annual yearbook, and starting 1956 its youth supplement "Vahakn" and from 1957 its sports supplement "Arevelk Marzashkharh".

From the monthlies, one can mention "Nairi" (1941-1949) by Antranig Dzarougian and the youth publication "Purasdan" (1950-1958).

Yearbooks include "Suryahay Daretsuyts" (1924-1926), "Datev" (1925-1930), "Suryagan Albom" (1927-1929), "Daron" (1949) and "Hay Darekirk" (1956) and "Keghart" starting 1975.

Present publications certainly would include Oshagan starting in 1978 renamed Kantsasar in 1991 and presently published weekly is the official organ of the Armenian Prelacy of Aleppo.

Syrian punlishers have a great contribution in translating several Armenian literature and academic studies into Arabic.

Syrian-Armenian Relation

Armenia has an embassy in Damascusmarker as well as aconsulate general in Aleppomarker since 28 May 1993. Since 1997, Syria has an embassy in Yerevanmarker. The first president of the new Republic of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrossian who ruled from 1991 to 1998 was born in Aleppo.

References

  1. ARMENIAN POPULATION IN THE WORLD
  2. Monument and Memorial Complex at Der Zor, Syria


See also



External links




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