In Syria, 7 killed and dozens injured in multiple bombings, shootings

November 13, 2019 by Lindy Lowry in Middle East

Less than a month after the Turkish incursion and bombs fell in northern Syria, the border city of Qamishli has recently seen more brutal and repeated violence. In one day, two Christian leaders were murdered and in a coordinated effort, three bombs exploded almost simultaneously, killing at least five people and wounding at least 26.

On Monday, November 11, two cars and a rigged motorcycle exploded near a cafe and a church, according to a statement from the region’s security forces. The wounded included four security force members, it said, describing the blasts as a “terrorist operation.”

On the same day as the explosions, Hovsep Petoyan and his father were shot and killed by terrorists. Gunmen attacked a car known to be carrying the Christian leaders traveling from Qamishli to Deir Ezzor to oversee the restoration of a church there that had been sustained damage in the latest attacks on Syria, Hovsep was the head of the Catholic church in Qamishli. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the murders.

ISIS’s official Amaq media outlet reported, “Two Christian priests were killed today, ISIS shot them down.”

The attacks are “very tragic news,” says pastor George Moushi of the Alliance church in Qamishli. “[Hovsep] was a peaceful man who had problems with no one, he wasn’t even political,” George shares. “All this affects the stability and impacts the existence of Christians in this area.”

Below, watch video footage of the explosions recorded by a bystander in Qamishli and posted on Twitter:

‘No one is safe.’

During the Turkish invasion that began in mid-October, Christians expressed fears of a resurgence of ISIS into the region that militants once occupied during a portion of the Syrian Civil War.

These recent attacks have many Christians asking the same question they have been wrestling with for years and recently as they held 24-hour prayer meetings in the wake of deadly air attacks from Turkey: “Is it safe to stay here?” In July, ISIS claimed responsibility for a massive truck bomb that killed at least 44 people in Qamishli.

Pastor George says that the killings and bombings have made a “big impact on Christians” and sends the message that “no one is safe.’”

“People started calling us, saying ‘why are you still there in that area?’ It made people start thinking about immigration again due to the fear of unsafety.”

While the Turkish invasion reportedly displaced 150,000 to 200,000 people, many also chose to stay. The explosions were clearly aimed at “disturbing the peace and safety of the people, especially those who decided to stay,” Pastor George asserts. “These bombings might make some people leave the country.” He describes the emotional toll of the attacks over the last six weeks:

“People live in fear,” he says. “Some live in isolation because they are afraid to leave their houses. All of this creates a psychological pressure on people and especially those who have children. It creates fear and uncertainty. This hit was hideous, strong, harmful and hard on all citizens. Three explosions inside the city on one day—this was a terrorist and criminal act.”

Pray with the church in Qamishli and northeast Syria

  • Pray for families and friends who lost loved ones in these recent attacks.
  • Pray for peace and protection from further violence.
  • Pray that God would protect this region from another insurgency—that He would confuse the plans of ISIS militants and reveal His power.
  • Pray that the church in Qamishli and throughout Syria and the Middle East would be voices of such extraordinary peace that others would want to know the source of their peace. Ask God to use this violence to open doors to the gospel.