Syrians of Armenian descent flee to Turkish border town

Syrian opposition transports 18 Syrians of Armenian origin from embattled Syrian border town to Turkey

Syrian opposition transports 18 Syrians of Armenian origin from embattled Syrian border town to Turkey

HATAY - Opposition forces who gained control of Syria's Kasab town provided 18 Syrians of Armenian descent safe passage Saturday to a border town in Turkey's Hatay province.

Clashes between Assad regime forces and the opposition have been ongoing for nearly two weeks around Kasab.

“War broke out near our home. The opposition brought us to a safe spot in Kasab... they treated us very well,” Anehud Arahunyan (67) told an Anadolu Agency correspondent after arriving at Yayladagi town.

The Syrians, seven of whom were women, were greeted by Yayladagi District Governor Turan Yilmaz, District Police Commander Akif Kizilkaya and customs personnel after opposition forces transported them to Kasab Border Gate.

“Our country's door is open to all who are victims... First we will host you, and then transport you to the place you wish to go," Yilmaz told the Syrians.

The refugees, among whom were injured persons who had to be provided with wheelchairs, were then hosted at a guesthouse for teachers.

Earlier this week, two elderly Syrian sisters of Armenian descent settled in a neighborhood populated largely by Armenians in Hatay's Samandag town.

Kasab, whose more than 2,000 inhabitants are mostly of Armenian origin, is located in the northwestern province of Latakia, Syria's main port city.

Turkey and Syria share more than 800 km of border, and Yayladagi has repeatedly been hit by shells and rockets from the tension in Kasab.

The war between the opposition and forces loyal to embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad has been in an uneasy stalemate since late 2013.

Syria has been gripped by almost constant fighting since Assad's regime responded to anti-government protests in March 2011 with a violent crackdown, sparking a conflict which has spiraled into a civil war.

The civil war, which entered its fourth year last month, has claimed more than 140,000 lives, according to London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights.

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