Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
by Alexandr Avanesov
Thousands of ethnic Armenians remaining in Syria braced themselves for a further escalation of the bloody conflict in their country on Wednesday amid growing talk of U.S.-led military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Radio Azatutyun reports.
Speaking to RFE/RL's Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) by phone, several Syrian Armenians trapped in Aleppo said they are already preparing to use the basements of their homes as shelters if the United States and other Western powers act on their threats of military action.
"The Armenian community is certainly worried," said Zarmig Boghikian, an Aleppo woman working at a local Armenian magazine, "Gandzasar." "We are neutral but concerned because those strikes will target the whole country. Leaders of the Armenian community are telling people to be cautious and don't leave their homes too often for the next few days." "Many people are thinking about fleeing but that's impossible to do in Aleppo now because the roads are closed," added Boghigian.
The Armenian government has so far avoided calling on Armenians in Syria to leave the country, while pledging to help those of them who want to settle in Armenia. Nikolay Grigorian, the deputy director of the Armenian Rescue Service, said on Wednesday that the authorities in Yerevan would consider organizing their evacuation only if they receive a relevant request from the community leaders.
There were an estimated 80,000 ethnic Armenians in Syria before the outbreak of the conflict there more than two years ago. About 10,000 of them have since taken refuge in Armenia, according to the authorities in Yerevan. An even larger number of Syrian Armenians is thought to have fled to neighboring Lebanon.