A number of Christian churches, some around 200 year old, were bombed by Islamic rebels last Friday in Aleppo, Syria. Among them was the Armenian Catholic Cathedral, St. Rita — or, “Our Lady of Pity,” built in 1830 — which was left partially destroyed.
According to the Aleppo-based Rev. Fr. Krikor Milad, the bombing took place at around 5:30 a.m., while everyone slept: “If the bombing had taken place just two hours later, the church would have been full of worshippers. God saved them.”
According to the Armenian Weekly,
the perpetrators are allegedly militants from the Islamic Front’s (Jabhat al-Islamiyya) militia “Harakat ‘Ahrar Al-Sham” (Liberators of the Levant Movement), who fired mortar shells at the cathedral.
The Jan. 9 attack comes four months after the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Church of Der Zor was destroyed by what was believed to be an act by the Islamic State (IS), though that has not been confirmed.
Around 17,000 Catholic Armenians belonged to the Eparchy of Aleppo as of 2008, according to figures provided by the Armenian Catholic Church Patriarchate. However, since the start of the Syrian conflict, many Armenians have left the country.