March 31, 2014 | 11:28

YEREVAN. - Human Rights Defender of Armenia Karen Andreasyan on Monday
issued an urgent message.

Andreasyan addressed the message to the UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, International
Ombudsman Institute, European Ombudsman Institute, International
Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House.

The Armenia Ombudsman's message is with respect to the ongoing events
in and around Syria's predominantly Armenian-populated town of Kessab.

"It is unfortunate, but the events similar to those in Kessab occurred
in 1909 and 1915, when the Turkish troops had forced the Armenians to
leave Kessab. Today's killings and displacement of Kessab Armenians
are the third in their history.

"The intent of complete or partial extermination of national, ethnic,
racial or religious groups is at the basis of these incidents. These
actions should be accepted as the most serious challenge to, and
peril against, the international community as well as the fundamental
principles of human rights.

"We call on the international community and international organizations
to launch a thorough investigation to find out the extent the
neighboring countries, or other states (Turkey, in particular), have
controlled the situation in Kessab, [and] what accountability they
bear for the human rights violations there," Andreasyan's message
specifically reads.

In the early morning on March 21, armed militants from the Jabhat
al-Nusra Islamic terrorist group infiltrated into northern Syria's
Latakia Governorate, which is predominantly inhabited by Armenians and
Alawites, from four directions. Two large groups of terrorists had
launched the attack from Turkey. About 600 Kessab-Armenian families
are currently sheltered in Latakia city. On March 23, Turkish fighter
planes downed a Syrian military aircraft that was conducting a mission
against the Islamic terrorists in Kessab. A group of Armenia parliament
members recently visited Syria to assess the situation in the region.