The Syrian parliament has overwhelmingly recognized the mass killings of more than one million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire that took place a century ago, as tensions run high between Damascus and Ankara over the latter’s military campaign in Syria’s embattled northwestern province of Idlib.
“The parliament... condemns and recognizes the genocide committed against the Armenians by the Ottoman government at the start of the twentieth century,” the legislature said in a statement released on Thursday.
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that the People's Council approved the motion without a single vote against it, describing the genocide as “one of the most atrocious crimes against humanity.”
The lawmakers also called on the international community to condemn the mass killings of Armenians as well.
Meanwhile, Syrian parliament speaker, Hammouda Sabbagh, said the Syrian people were facing Turkey’s hostility based on the outrageous Ottoman ideology, pointing out that the Syrian people know exactly this kind of racial crimes as they have been exposed to the same brutal terrorism by the same criminal mindset.
Sabbagh added that heinous crimes against people will not be forgotten as time goes by, particularly taking into account that neo-Ottomanism uses the same criminal styles.
He called on the international community to shoulder its humanitarian, ethical and political responsibility in recognizing this crime, and not to deny it while strongly condemning it.
Armenia says 1.5 million were killed under the Ottoman Empire, the forerunner of modern-day Turkey, from 1915 to 1917, and that the mass killings were an effort to wipe out the Christian ethnic group and thus amount to genocide.
Turkey, in return, puts the number far lower and adamantly rejects the term genocide, saying that Turks also died in what it considers fighting as part of World War I.
The move comes amid heightened tensions between Syria and Turkey over Idlib and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threats of military escalation there.
Earlier on Wednesday, Erdogan said Turkey's military would strike Syrian army forces by air or ground anywhere in Syria if another Turkish soldier was hurt as Syrian government troops continue to make significant gains in battles against foreign-backed terrorists in Idlib province.
The Turkish president said Ankara was determined to push Syrian government forces beyond Turkish observation posts in Idlib by the end of this month, urging allied militants not to give government forces an excuse to attack.
An official at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates dismissed Erdogan’s threats as hollow, stressing that they have been made by someone detached from realities on the ground.
The source added that such statements are simply made by someone, who does not understand changing developments, and threatens to attack Syrian Arab Army soldiers after the Turkish army and their proxies suffered a heavy blow.
The diplomat further highlighted that the Syrian government is completely determined to perform its national and constitutional duties as regards the campaign against terrorist groups across the country, and to open up humanitarian corridors for the exit of civilians as Turkish-backed militants prevent their departure and take them to use as human shields.