Father and Son Priests Shot Dead While Traveling in Northern Syria; ISIS Claims Responsibility for Attack

An Armenian Catholic priest and his father were murdered by terrorists Monday while traveling in a car in northeastern Syria.

According to Radio Free Europe Monday, Father Hovsep Petoian, who is the head of the Armenian Catholic community in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli near the border with Turkey, and his father, Father Abraham Petoian, were on their way to oversee the restoration of a church in Deir Al-Zor, when they were attacked.

A third man in the car with them, a deacon, was wounded in the attack.

The Islamic State is claiming credit for the killings.

Prior to the civil war in Syria, over 100,000 ethnic Armenians lived in Syria, primarily in the northwestern province of Aleppo. Many of them have since fled, including thousands back to Armenia.

A landlocked nation of approximately 3 million people that is sandwiched between the Middle East and Asia, Armenia is sometimes referred to as the land of Noah’s Ark. Although physically located on far-east Turkish soil, Mount Ararat — long believed by many Christians to be the final resting place of Noah’s ark — overlooks the Armenian capital city of Yerevan. The ark at the summit of the mountain with receding floodwaters is an icon that appears at the center of the Armenian coat of arms.

In recent years and at present, Islamic State militants have been and continue targeting Christians and other religious minorities in the region, displacing tens of thousands of them when they ruled large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter