The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS) group has launched an attack on an Armenian-language music festival in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
The ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack on Friday and blamed Armenian musicians for orchestrating the attack.
The Armenian-American Armenian Society of New York (AASZO), which has been hosting the Armenian-Muslim music festival for the past four years, was among those attacked.
“The attackers stormed the venue and shot people, who were all Armenian citizens,” AASZA said in a statement on Facebook.
“This was the result of an intentional attack on our festival.
We are calling for the government to stop all violence against Armenians, and to protect the Armenian community from further attacks.”AASWO said it was “appalled and outraged” by the attack and the ISIL’s claims that the festival was an attempt to provoke an attack by Armenians.
“As a member of the Armenian diaspora, I have never been in the slightest doubt that the Armenian National Congress (ANCA) was a peaceful organization and that the attacks on the ANCA were not intended to hurt our community,” the organization said in its statement.
“While our nation faces many threats, the Armenian population has never been targeted.
The attack against our community and the Armenian language in general is not only cowardly, it is inhumane and must stop,” AAWO added.
The attacks come just weeks after a bomb attack in the Armenian city of Yerevan killed at least eight people and wounded hundreds of others.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has been visiting the country on a peace mission, while his predecessor, Ilham Aliyev, has been attending the Armenian genocide memorial in Yerev.
Sargsyann, who is also the country’s president, has also called for an end to the violence in Armenia and urged the country to adopt a “zero tolerance policy” toward the Armenian minority.
The attack in Yemek was the third attack against the festival in less than a week.
Last month, a bomb exploded outside the venue of the annual music festival at the end of March, killing seven people and injuring dozens more.
The festival’s director, Vahan Saroyan, said the attacks were not related to the government’s efforts to halt the spread of ISIL and that they were a result of “an attempt to undermine the festival and our culture”.
“This is the first time in our history that a single attack has occurred at a music festival, and we are shocked by it,” Saroyana told reporters.
“It is completely un-Islamic.
We have always been the only ones who had music and music festivals in YEMek, but now it’s being interrupted.”
Saroyana said the perpetrators were members of the Islamic State (IS) group, a group that has claimed responsibility in the past for other attacks on Armenian minorities.
“I do not believe there is any difference between our culture and ISIL,” he said.
“There is a lack of security at YEMeks festival, with people hiding, not even coming out.
We cannot take part in our festival, not for any reason,” he added.
Sarayyan said there had been no evidence that the attackers had any links to ISIL or the Armenian government.