At least two people were killed following Sunday’s terrorist attack at a ceremony marking the opening of a Hagia Sophia Replica in Syria’s northwestern Hama province.
More than a dozen were injured in what appears to be a jihadist drone attack that targeted worshippers gathered for the service.
“Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [the Al-Qaeda’s foreign branch in Syria] launched two unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with cameras and small-sized missiles that directly targeted the religious gathering,” a local source said.
🚨Breaking News | This video shows the terrorist attack on the Aya Sophia Orthodox Church in Hama, Syria. A missile left 2 dead and 12 wounded early Sunday during the inauguration of the church.
Video shared by an attendant. #Hagia_Sophia pic.twitter.com/HSkBfm8iVY
— آسي مينا (@acimenanews) July 24, 2022
Hagia Sophia in Syria was blessed by the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church
The church was built in al-Suqaylabiyah as a replica of the Hagia Sophia located in the Turkish city of Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia was built in the sixth century as a cathedral and then became a mosque under the Ottomans. Latrer on, it was converted into a museum under Ataturk’s secular republic and was recently converted back to a mosque in line with Turkey’s increasing Islamization under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The church in Syria had been blessed by the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch in 2020 when construction began.
The new, grand edifice, which was constructed with the help of Russia, is supposed to serve as a cathedral for the Orthodox population of the area.
The Syrian Arab Army said it had shot down several drones flying over the town, which has a population of 17,000, most of which is comprised of Greek Orthodox Christians.
The ceremony in 2020, marking the start of construction, was attended by religious leaders of both Syria and Russia. A message about the history of the Hagia Sophia was engraved on the replica’s cornerstone.
The inscription says that Turkey’s decision to convert the Hagia Sophia of Istanbul was an attempt to erase history but that they will honor the history of Hagia Sophia by building a replica of the landmark.