Russia to Send Humanitarian Aid to Syrian Armenians Abused by Militants in Kessab

BEIRUT, April 2 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will send humanitarian aid to Syrian Armenians who suffered abuse from local militants in Kessab within several days, Sergei Stepashin, Chairman of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS ), told RIA Novosti Wednesday.

"At a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad we were informed that humanitarian aid collected by IOPS will be sent to Syrian Armenians who became victims of violent attack on their village [Kessab]," Stepashin said.

IOPS delegation headed by Stepashin held a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Prime Minister Wael al-Khalq, and members of the Syrian Cabinet on Tuesday.

"We have already sent $2.5 million in aid," Stepashin asserted.

He also added that all the funds were collected by Russian citizens.

Home to over 2,000 ethnic Armenians the town of Kessab is located in Syria's Latakia province. The town fell into rebels' hands on March 21 when al-Qaeda backed militants crossed into Syria from Turkey and seized the village after a brutal battle with Syrian troops.

The Armenian government later called on the UN to protect Kessab.

Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed concern over militants' attack on Kessab.

"The seizure by extremists of the town of Kessab elicited a broad response in Armenian communities throughout the world," Russian Foreign Ministry said in its March statement.

Moscow has previously directed humanitarian aid to crisis-hit Syria, accusing the US of encouraging extremists who are financing terrorism and supplying terrorist groups with weapons.

Spending on foreign aid by Russia reached $458 million in 2012, while the world's major aid donors spent $125.6 billion, according to the country's finance ministry.