An Armenian Catholic priest was murdered on Monday 11 November 2019 at the entrance of a church in eastern Syria.
Father Hovsep Bidoyan from Qamishli and his biological father were killed during a visit to the Armenian Catholic Church in Deir Ezzor, a city in eastern Syria.
Both men were attacked by unidentified gunmen as they travelled southbound from Hasaka province to Deir Ezzor.
“For us they are martyrs. And what happened to them is a confirmation that the war is not over here, as we had hoped,” Boutros Marayati, Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, told Fides news agency.
The funerals of the priest and his father were celebrated on the morning of November 12 in Qamishli, in the Armenian Catholic Church of St. Joseph.
Father Hovsep, 46, was married with three children. He was ordained 5 years ago as the priest of the Armenian Catholic community of Qamishli, in the northeastern Syrian province of Hassake.
“In the city of Qamishli, many Christian refugees also fled from Deir ez-Zor, when that city was devastated by war,” Archbishop Marayati said.
“He also carried out his pastoral work among them, and for a long time, he also followed the projects implemented with the help of international groups to rebuild the church and the houses of the Christians in Deir ez Zor, destroyed by the war.”
“For this reason, he went to Deir ez Zor every two weeks to check the progress of the work. He had already carried out six trips to that city so dear to the memory of the Armenians, where there is the shrine of the martyrs of the genocide, also devastated during the conflict,” he added.
At the time of the ambush, the priest and his father were travelling together with an Armenian deacon – wounded during the assault – and another person. The two killers had their faces covered and fled after the ambush.
The priest’s father died immediately. Father Hovsep was wounded in the chest and brought to a clinic in Deir ez Zor. He was then transferred by ambulance to a hospital in Hassakè. Unfortunately, by the time he arrived at the hospital, he was pronounced dead.
Islamic State (Daesh) yesterday claimed responsibility for killing the Armenian Catholic priest and his father-although they erroneously stated that “two priests” were eliminated.
According to the Kurds of the Rojava Information Centre, Daesh jihadists allegedly carried out 30 attacks in the first ten days of November.
This is a 300% increase in activity levels compared to the period prior to the Turkish military occupation in Syria.
Picture: Father Hovsep Bidoyan