Extensive damage to the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir Ezzor, Syria, since 2014 can be seen in new footage posted on November 8, after Syrian government forces took control of the city, long an Islamic State stronghold.
Several plaques with Armenian characters written on them can be seen cracked or completely destroyed on the inside of the church. Rubble is piled in the entryways and windows.
The church was a memorial to the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1917, in which Armenia claims 1.5 million Armenians were killed at the hands of Turks. However, Turkey does not recognize the genocide term, and said the number was closer to 300,000. The memorial had been a major pilgrimage site, according to the BBC. Tens of thousands of Armenians once lived in Deir Ezzor, and more in other Syrian cities, many whose ancestors fled the killings in the Ottoman Empire across unforgiving desert.
When Islamic State forces took control of the city in 2014, they blew up the Martyrs’ Church, according to Armenian and Syrian news reports. Since then, other culprits have been considered, such as members of the Jabhat-al-Nusra militia in 2014, possibly using Turkish weapons. Credit: Facebook/Sarkis Kassargian via Storyful