On July 11, 2019, a car bomb exploded outside the entrance of the Syriac Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in the al-Wusta district of Qamishli, Syria at approximately 6:00pm local time. No deaths have been reported, but at least seven people were injured in the attack. No claim of responsibility has yet been made for the terrorist attack.
The church holds evening prayer services at approximately 5:30pm daily. Many locals believe that the attack was planned to coincide with the end of prayer services.
"Luckily, the [parishioners] were still inside the church. If the bomb had went off a little later than it did, it would have been a massacre." said an Assyrian resident of Qamishli. One Assyrian resident told the API, "This is why we are hesitant to hope for our future [in Syria]. Every time we find reasons to hope, something [like this bombing] happens. This [bombing] is a reminder that we will never be safe here." Al-Wusta is a predominantly Assyrian district of Qamishli—a city founded by Assyrians escaping the 1915 Assyrian Genocide. Prior to the start of the conflict in 2011, the population of ethnic Assyrians in Qamishli was estimated to be 25,000; it is believed that less than half remain today. In December 2015, a series of car bombs targeting Assyrian-owned restaurants in al-Wusta claimed the lives of 14 Assyrian civilians. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have the greatest control over security in Qamishli, but militias affiliated with the Syrian government, namely the National Defense Forces, continue to maintain a smaller presence in the city.