SDF fighters rescue last Armenian family in Raqqa
On August 8, SDF fighters had rescued 150 families from western Raqqa. One of the rescued families was Armenian. The rescued Armenian family was transported to Girê Spî.
After the Syrian crisis broke out, there were some 60 Armenian families left in Raqqa which was once home to an array of nations and societies. After the ISIS invasion of the city, this number continued to drop.
The 8-person Armenian family was rescued by SDF fighters on August 8 at around 02.00. Araksî and Karbîs Gomeciyan spoke to the ANHA news agency about the conditions they lived under in Raqqa:
“WE COULDN’T LEAVE OUR HOME”
Mother Araksî said her family had lived in Raqqa for over 60 years and added the following on what they felt when the gangs invaded the city: “After ISIS entered the city, we couldn’t leave our homes. We fulfilled our religious duties at home. Because they tore down our churches. They forced us to wear black clothes and even put black gloves on our hands. They arrested all who didn’t comply. The gangs didn’t even allow us to sell our house and move elsewhere.”
Araksî said they were the last Armenian family left in Raqqa and continued: “We were the last Armenian family left in Raqqa, and we are sad that we left. But we left because there was no option left. The fighting was intense and we couldn’t get necessities like water or bread. We only fed on the rice and bulgur we had.”
“WE DIDN’T EXPECT TO BE GREETED LIKE THIS”
The old woman stated that she is both sad to leave the city she spent her childhood and youth in and happy to have reached safe zones and said the following on how the fighters treated them: “We did not expect to be greeted with such welcome by the SDF and Syriac Military Council fighters.”
“WE HAD TO GROW BEARDS AND PAY TAX”
Karbîs Gomeciyan stated that ISIS didn’t touch the Armenians when they first invaded Raqqa, but then things changed and Christians over 18 were forced to pay the “infidel tax” named Ciziye and grow beards.
Karbîs said the gangs exiled those who did not comply and continued: “The first massacre and exile of Armenians was by the Turkish state, and the second is now by ISIS’ hands. The common purpose here is to tear the people away from their lands.”
“ISIS DOESN’T REPRESENT ISLAM”
Karbîs Gomeciyan said they lived together with many Muslims and shared joy and sorrow. He added that the ISIS gangs have no respect for any sect or religion and continued: “There is no killing in the Islam religion. This religion has mercy. That is what we learned since we were children. But ISIS gangs have nothing to do with Islam.”
Gomeciyan concluded his words by saying: “We left Raqqa in sorrow. The moment we saw the SDF fighters we knew peace. The fighters embraced us and rescued us from ISIS gangs.”
SDF’s special units have rescued thousands of civilians from ISIS to date.