Fire flygtninge fra Kessab, som i første omgang ikke kom ud, da de fleste i byen flygtede om morgenen den 21. marts. Brødrene Asbed (68), Hakob (74), deres mor Karen Jurian (93) til højre og deres svigermor Karen (96) til venstre.
Asbed and Hagop, please tell us what happened on March 22.
- The first day, on March 21, they started bombarding the town. It continued until night and stopped, then the electricity went and the telephone lines were cut off. The second morning the bombs started again. People who had cars began leaving and fleeing from Kessab. Those who did not have cars waited… The other day, at 3:30 we got information that we have to leave, everbody is fleeing. We did not have any car. Our neighbor’s brother said he has a car and can take some of us with him. My wife, and son and my sister in law left with the car. There was no space for us, so we were left there. On Sunday morning the militias came and took us to some sort of a garage. They kept us there for three days. Then they took us to a village on the road to Aleppo, Beddama village, and kept us there for 12 days. After 12 days they said they will take us back to our village. They said everything was intact in our village and we will go to our homes. They put us in a car and took us back to Kessab. They took us straight to the catholic church in Kessab. We went in and said the Lord’s prayer. Meanwhile we realized that they are filming us. They started interviewing us and asked if the church was in good shape. We said at this moment nothing has happened to the church. Some glasses were broken but no major damage. They took us out and more TVs and journalists were brought to interview us. At that moment there was an explosion. They said, ‘you see, the regime is bombarding again, so you are not safe here, we will take you to Turkey’. We said ‘fine, take us to our homes, let us get our passports and clothing’. They said, we don’t need these because everything will be taken care of in Turkey. They took us to Turkeys border, there were Turkish soldiers waiting for us. They took us out of the Syrian cars and put us in Turkish cars. They said we will take you to the leader of the region, the kaimakam. He will host us and feed us. We stayed at a hostel, they fed us and at around 10 pm they said we will take you to the only Armenian village in Turkey, Vakef. We were taken there where the priest welcomed us and gave us a place to sleep, and the militias left. The second day, some Armenians came from Istanbul came and talked to us. Other journalists came and interviewed us. We stayed there in Turkey. Then they started working on our papers and after 40 days, they transferred us to Lebanon via Latakia. Now we are here in Lebanon. We are ok, they are taking good care of us. They are giving us food and shelter. But we don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Why do you think this happened, why did the militants took the town of Kessab?
- They always threatened Kessab, we saw that on Facebook and other places, especially during the holy days. But they did not do anything because there was the army around the town. The last time Turkey opened the border and they attacked Kessab from four sides. The army could not defend the town, it was hard, the militias were attacking from all sides. The army left the posts and we were left there unprotected. Everybodystarted fleeing.