Massacre Proves Turk, Washington Complicity in
By Finian Cunningham
December 04, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "SCF"
- On the morning of March 21, 2014, the Syrian village of Kessab was
attacked with a combined force of Islamist jihadists and the Turkish
army. Among the irregular militia were brigades belonging to the
Free Syrian Army, Turkmen tribes and Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra and
the self-proclaimed Islamic State. All were working in tandem in the
resulting massacre. And the evidence shows that the Ankara and
Washington governments were fully complicit in the atrocity.
The dawn assault on
the mainly Armenian Christian village of 2,000 inhabitants began
with heavy artillery fire from Turkish army positions across the
border in Turkey’s Hatay Province. Turkish army helicopters were
also used to strafe Kessab homes and farms. The village is located
in the Jebel Al-Aqra mountains overlooking the Mediterranean Sea
only a few kilometres from the Turkish border in Syria’s Latakia
After the initial
salvos from the Turk army, the village was then attacked with
thousands of militants who streamed across the border in pick-up
trucks. Among the assault force were nationals from Chechnya,
Afghanistan, Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia – as well as British and
Australian, according to survivors.
Most of the Kessab
residents managed to escape in panic from the advancing jihadists in
cars and other vehicles to the southern city of Latakia, which is
about an hour’s drive away and is under the control of the Syrian
But what transpired in
the next days was a massacre of villagers who were left stranded. In
total, 88 mainly elderly residents were slaughtered. Thirteen of the
victims were beheaded. One young man, 21-year-old Kevork Djurian,
was executed in front of his parents. The killers just laughed at
his father Papken’s anguish. The jihadists refused to let the father
bury his son, saying that he was «an Armenian dog».
Kessab was occupied by
the jihadists for nearly three months before theSyrian Arab Army
finally routed the militants and retook the village in mid-June
2014. Today, it still remains under Syrian government control.
Two witnesses to the
slaughter have separately told this author of the event and its
aftermath. One is an American citizen who has lived in Syria for
more than 20 years. She is a medical professional who has a family
home in Kessab. On the morning of the opening assault, she was in
Latakia, but she tended to the survivors who fled to the main
Armenian church in Latakia for sanctuary. As well as caring for the
traumatised people, some of whom were her neighbours and friends,
she carefully noted their accounts of how the initial attack
unfolded. When the Syrian army later retook Kessab in June, the
American medic returned to the village and witnessed the devastation
that the jihadists had inflicted on homes, public buildings and
Another witness is
Irish peace activist, Dr Declan Hayes. He also managed to reach
Kessab in the days following its recapture by the Syrian army.
Hayes interviewed survivors and recorded the scenes of looting and
destruction left behind by the fleeing anti-government militia.
«I interviewed the man
whose son was slain in front of his eyes», says Hayes. «The
jihadists left the young man’s bloodied corpse lying on the ground
for three days outside the family home just to torment his
Without exception, all
the villagers said that the assault began with artillery fire and
raids by helicopter gunships from Turk territory. «The border
is heavily militarised with Turk army positions everywhere on the
Turkish side. There is no doubt that this attack was launched with
the direct involvement of the Turkish government in Ankara», adds
Kessab is in the same
mountainous location where Turkish F-16 fighter jets last week shot
down a Russian Su-24 bomber, which had been carrying out raids on
jihadist groups. The Russian plane came down in Syrian territory and
one of its pilots was murdered as he parachuted to the ground by
Turkmen militants. The Turkmen are Syrian citizens who are
ethnically related to Turks across the border.
woman (whose name has been withheld by this author on request) says
that the Turkmen played an important role in the slaughter of Kessab.
«They know all the roads, trails and paths into and out of Kessab.
They were the ones who led the attackers into the village», she
Churches and a
cultural centre in the village were desecrated. The attackers moved
from house-to-house killing terrified dwellers and then they
looted everything that was not nailed down or even those possessions
that were nailed down. Money, jewellery, televisions, fridges,
doors, windows, furnishings and farm equipment were systematically
plundered and hauled back in trucks to be sold off across the border
Adding to the crimes,
a group of about 30 elderly village folk were then abducted by the
marauders and taken to the Turkish town of Vakifli some 20
kilometres across the border. They were held there by armed
militants for several weeks before they were flown by the Turk
authorities to the city of Tripoli in Lebanon. From there the people
were able to make their way back to the sanctuary of Latakia. The
circuitous route was chosen by the Turk regime in order to conceal
its involvement in the crime.
abduction, the group was visited by an official American delegation
that included the then US ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone.
Ricciardone introduced himself through an interpreter. The petrified
Kessab folk pleaded with the American official to intervene for
their release. But he left them in their plight. What he wanted to
know through his questioning was if any of the people from Kessab
were American citizens.
As the American medic
pointed out to this author: «There are a few US citizens like me who
live in Kessab. There is a big diaspora community of Armenian
Syrians in the United States and many of them have homes back in
Syria. It seems that the American ambassador was worried that if any
US citizens were among the Kessab survivors this would rebound badly
for the American government if that news got out».
As noted, once the US
ambassador established that there were apparently no American
citizens involved in the aftermath of the Kessab assault, he duly
left them to their fate of captivity in Turkey.
What that encounter
illustrates is that Washington must have been fully aware of what
went down in Kessab. How else would the US diplomat know to show up
to question the abducted villagers?
In the days following
the attack on the village, Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the
United Nations, issued a perfunctory, bland statement about
Washington’s «concern» over the violence. But Washington did not
specify who the guilty parties were, nor did it issue any censure of
the Turk government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was the prime
minister at that time. He is now the president.
In fact, a subsequent
statement issued by State Department official Victoria Nuland
claimed that the Turk government had no involvement in the Kessab
incident. However, the Russian, Syrian and Armenian governments did
make explicit condemnations of the massacre.
The Turkish government
claimed that it had no role in the attack. In an official release,
the Erdogan regime said: «The allegations by some circles that
Turkey is providing support to the opposition forces by letting them
use its territory or through some other ways during the conflict
which have intensified recently in the Latakia/Kessab region are
totally unfounded and untrue».
But the testimonies
cited in this article show that the Turk authorities were directly
involved in the military assault and the orchestration of
jihadist militants. The Ankara government’s denials of what happened
in Kessab are thus barefaced lies.
On April 1, 2014, 12
days after the assault began, Ahmed Jarba, the leader of the
Western-backed Syrian National Council (SNC), arrived in Kessab. The
SNC is the exiled political wing of the Free Syrian Army. Jarba, who
is a protégé of the Saudi regime, went there to inspect the
occupation and congratulate the militants on their successful breach
of government-held territory in Latakia. The breach of territory to
the Mediterranean coast was considered a significant victory for the
militants. The following month, in May, Jarba was received in the
White House by President Barack Obama. He was also greeted by
Obama’s National Security advisor, Susan Rice.
The «rape of Kessab»,
as Dr Declan Hayes has called it, was fully conducted by fighters
belonging to the Western-backed FSA, along with jihadist brigades
comprising Turkmen tribesmen and Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra and
The incident serves as
a microcosm of the entire four-and-a-half-year-old Syrian conflict.
The mainly Armenian Christian village of Kessab is home to all
religious sects that reside in Syria, including Alawite and Sunni
Muslims. The farming community has lived peaceably together for
centuries and has never been persecuted by the Syrian government of
President Assad. The only previous persecution was a century ago, in
1915, when the Turk Ottoman empire carried out the Armenian
genocide, when 1.5 million Armenians were exterminated. Tragically,
many survivors of the Kessab massacre last year are descendants of
that first genocide.
On the morning of
March 21 last year, the community of Kessab was plunged into an orgy
of barbarism carried out by Western, Turk and
Saudi-backed jihadists. The whole notion contrived by Western
governments and their mainstream media that the West is backing
«secular, moderate rebels» in Syria fighting against a sectarian,
despotic regime is thus exposed as a vile charade, as the carnage at
Of particular import
is the criminal role played by the Turk government of Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, not only in the orchestration of the slaughter at Kessab,
but, more generally, throughout the entire Syrian conflict.
Erdogan has this week
flatly denied claims made by Russian President Vladimir Putin that
Ankara is complicit in fuelling the conflict in Syria by supporting
terrorists through an industrial-scale campaign, involving the
smuggling of oil for weapons. Erdogan has even said that he will
resign if it is proven that his regime is complicit. His arrogant
confidence seems to stem from his regime’s brutal suppression of
Turk media publishing verifiable articles that Turkish state
intelligence has indeed been running truck-loads of weapons into
Previously, by way of
attempting to absolve the Turk state from charges of terrorist
collusion, Erdogan claimed that weapons were being sent to help
Turkmen «brothers» to defend themselves from the Syrian army.
Following the brutal murder of the Russian pilot by Turkmen
jihadists last week, Erdogan this week changed his tune and claimed
that weapon convoys into Syria were allegedly being sent to the
«Free Syrian Army».
But, as the Kessab
massacre demonstrates, the so-called «moderate» FSA is an integral
and indistinguishable component of the proxy terrorist army that
Ankara and its Washington ally are supporting to overthrow the
elected government of President Assad. Any difference is patently
just a figment of imaginative propaganda.
Obama, while at the
Paris climate change summit this week (appropriately, a «hot-air»
conference of world leaders), has this week reiterated calls on
Russia to focus its military campaign on the Islamic State and to
halt its aerial attacks on «moderate rebels».
The American president
and his Turk ally are in no position to lecture anybody about
«terrorists» and «moderates». They are all part of the same criminal
gang, and that gang includes Obama and Erdogan.
© Strategic Culture Foundation