Syria’s parliament recognizes Armenian genocide amid tensions with Turkey

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Syria’s parliament Thursday recognized the 1915-1917 murder of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, as tensions run high with Turkey after deadly clashes in northwest Syria.

“The parliament... condemns and recognizes the genocide committed against the Armenians by the Ottoman state at the start of the twentieth century,” the legislature said in a statement.

The Armenians seek international recognition that the mass killings of their people under the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917 amounted to genocide. They say 1.5 million died.

Turkey strongly denies the accusation of genocide and says that both Armenians and Turks died as a result of World War I. It puts the death toll in the hundreds of thousands.

The move comes after weeks of tensions between Ankara and Damascus over deadly clashes between the two sides in northwest Syria that Ankara says has killed 14 of its soldiers.

Russia-backed government forces have since December upped their deadly bombardment of the last major bastion of opposition in northwest Syria, where Ankara supports the rebels and has deployed troops.

The offensive on the rebel bastion of Idlib has also forced 700,000 people from their homes towards the closed Turkish border, the United Nations says.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday threatened to strike Syrian government forces “everywhere” if its soldiers come under renewed attack. Damascus hit back that he was “disconnected from reality.”

After the last incursion, Turkey set up a so-called “safe zone” in a 120-kilometer (70-mile) long strip inside Syrian territory along its southern border.

Parliaments in nearly 30 countries have passed laws, resolutions or motions recognizing the genocide.

The US congress in December recognized the mass killings as genocide, angering Turkey. President Donald Trump’s administration said it did not agree.

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