ISIS Terror Attacks Shake Paris, Beirut

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Lebanese Foreign Minister: Paris and Beirut Attacks Are Connected; Both Countries Stand as Symbols of Diversity, Freedom of Speech, and Religion

A series of coordinated attacks were carried out in the French capital of Paris and its northern suburb Saint-Denis on the evening of Nov. 13. The attacks—which included mass shootings, suicide bombings, and hostage-taking—took the lives of 129 victims, while 415 others sustained injuries and were admitted to hospitals; 80 were described as being seriously injured.

Flowers outside one of the restaurants attacked in Paris (Photo: Maya-Anaïs Yataghène)

The deadliest of the attacks took place at the Bataclan Theater, where attackers held concert-goers hostage and had a stand-off with police. Eighty-nine of the victims were killed in the theater. Seventeen-year-old French-Armenian Lola Ouzounian is among those still missing after the attack. Ouzounian was attending the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan Theater at the time of the attack. Mourad Papazian, the president of the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations of France (CCAF), told Armenia’s that French police had not confirmed the news of her death as of Nov. 15.

Two other French Armenians present at the concert survived the attack, according to Hilda Tchoboian, a member of the Rhone-Alpes Regional Parliament in France. Speaking to Armenpress, Tchoboian said that the two young men escaped the theater after they heard gunfire from the restroom.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) quickly claimed responsibility for the attacks, which are considered the deadliest in France since World War II, and the deadliest in Europe since the Madrid train bombings in 2004, which claimed the lives of 191 people. Falsified Syrian passports were found near the bodies of two of the suspected attackers. The fake passports were likely produced in Turkey, reported France’s channel 4 news.

On Nov. 15, a video surfaced online showing ISIS supporters celebrating the Paris attack on the streets of Gaziantep, Turkey. The supporters in the video can be seen honking horns and flying the ISIS flag out of their cars while diving down a street in Gaziantep:

Click here to view the embedded video.

In response to the deadly attacks, French President François Hollande declared three days of national mourning, announced a state of emergency, and placed a temporary closure of the country’s borders.  Two days following the attack, on Nov. 15, France struck ISIS targets in Al-Raqqah, Syria, by air.

In a video released on Nov. 16, ISIS threatened that all countries taking part in air strikes against Syria would suffer attacks similar to the one in Paris. In the video, which appeared on a website used by ISIS to release messages, armed militants specifically threatened to attack targets in Washington, D.C.

“We say to the states that take part in the crusader campaign that, by God, you will have a day, God willing, like France’s, and by God, as we struck France in the center of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its center in Washington,” said one of the men in the video shared by Reuters.

A day before the Paris attacks, two suicide bombers detonated explosives in Bourj el-Barajneh, a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, which claimed the lives of 43 people. The bombings, which ISIS also claimed responsibility for, occurred in the commercial quarter of Bourj el-Barajneh, near the General Security Post on Hussaineya Street, according to al-Manar television. The area is known to be a stronghold of Hezbollah.

The aftermath of the attack in Bourj el-Barajneh, which claimed the lives of 43 people

According to reports, the first bombing took place outside a Shia mosque, while the second happened five minutes later inside a nearby bakery, as people tried to help those injured in the initial blast. A potential third attacker was killed before exploding his vest, according to reports.

The Central Committee of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) of Lebanon released a statement condemning the Beirut attacks, calling them acts of terrorism that “targeted all Lebanese people, and not just one part of Lebanon.”

“Terrorism knows neither religion nor denominations. This is a threat that jeopardizes Lebanese society as a whole,” read a part of the statement. The Central Committee also urged all Lebanese political forces to come together and combat all acts of violence that threaten the unity and security of Lebanon.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil speaking at a conference in Vienna on the Syrian conflict

On Nov. 14, speaking at a conference in Vienna on the Syrian conflict, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil said that the acts of terrorism perpetrated in Beirut and Paris are not coincidental and that they are surely connected, since both Lebanon and France are symbols of freedom of speech and religion, as well as diversity.

“[The] nature of the two crimes and their timing, which is a few days after the Russian airplane incident and ahead of today’s meeting, confirm that they are sending us a message that terrorism is capable of waging wars and coordinating systematic attacks at the same time wherever they want,” Bassil said on Saturday.


Sarkisian Sends Condolence Letters to Lebanese PM and French President

Francois Hollande (Photo: State Chancellery of Latvia)

Armenian President Serge Sarkisian sent condolence letters to Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam and French President Francois Hollande following the two attacks.

“In recent years, the growth of this kind of inhuman violence in different countries of the world gives rise to serious concerns. I am confident that each member of the civilized community will join the struggle against this evil facing us. We must not allow violence, extremism, and intolerance to prevail. We are obliged to make concerted efforts at revealing and eradicating all those factors which cause such horrible manifestations of extremism,” read a part of Sarkisian’s letter to Hollande.

Sarkisian’s letter to Salam strongly condemned the terrorist attack that took place in Beirut. He said the attack “aimed at disrupting stability and security both in Lebanon and in the region.”


Armenians Express Grief in Yerevan and Stepanakert

Following the Paris attacks, hundreds of people visited Yerevan’s French embassy and France Square to lay flowers and hold vigils in commemoration of the victims of Friday’s attack. President Sarkisian also visited the square on Saturday to pay homage to the victims. Earlier in the day, Sarkisian strongly condemned the attacks and expressed solidarity with the French nation when speaking at an event held at the Musa Ler Memorial in Armenia’s Armavir Province on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Musa Ler resistance.

Sarkisian speaking at an event held at the Musa Ler Memorial (Photo:

The Musa Ler self-defense “was one of the heroic episodes of the Armenian history to which our French brothers made an invaluable contribution. A hundred years have passed but our sense of gratitude has not weakened even a bit…Unfortunately, by the irony of fate, we witnessed last night terrorist attacks—unprecedented terrorist acts by their scale—committed in the heart of France, Paris. All of us are deeply shocked by it. I strongly condemn those terrific and ghastly actions which claimed multiple innocent lives,” Sarkisian said in his speech.

On Sunday, the “Karabakh-France” Friendship Circle held a minute of silence at the French square in Stepanakert to commemorate the victims of the Paris attacks.

A scene from a vigil held in Yerevan’s France Square in commemoration of the victims of Friday’s attack (Photo:

Ashot Ghoulyan, chairman of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR) National Assembly and head of the “Karabagh-France” Friendship Circle, joined NKR Prime Minister Arayik Harutyunyan, members of the NKR Parliament, ministers, representatives of state and public organizations, and hundreds of NKR citizens to lay flowers at the “Eternity” monument in Stepanakert on Sunday. The monument in NKR’s capital symbolizes the friendship between the French and Armenian people.

Ghoulyan also sent a letter of condolence to a member of the Friendship Circle “France-Karabagh,” French MP Francois Rochebloine. “We share the pain of France in these difficult moments and express our solidarity with the relatives of all the victims of the unprecedented terrorism and wish those injured a quick recovery,” read the letter.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: ISIS Terror Attacks Shake Paris, Beirut