Hagop looked bewildered when asked if he had heard of such a massacre. He says no one was killed—a statement repeated by Anjar’s mayor, Sarkis Pamboukian.
The Armenians accuse an old foe for their woes. Scenes of mass panic on the day the town fell were sparked largely by rumours of a Turkish invasion, reopening wounds in the collective memory of the Armenians, victims of what is widely recognised as a genocide at the Turks’ hands in 1915. “I heard explosions, so I called friends, who said there was an attack from the Turkish border,” says Hagop.
No Turkish invasion materialised, but Anjar’s residents are adamant their historic adversaries were the masterminds behind the attack. “This is a continuation of Turkey’s project to take Kassab,” says Mr Pamboukian. “The rebels couldn’t have entered without their [Turkey’s] permission,” says Hagop, repeating claims made by non-Armenians too. Turkey’s foreign ministry says the accusations are “entirely baseless”.
There are around 100,000 Armenians in Syria, which has been a safe haven for minorities and displaced people including thousands of Palestinians, who are now finding themselves uprooted once more. Partly for this reason, Syrian Armenians and their Lebanese brethren in Anjar share quiet support for Syria’s Assad regime.