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Turkey slams Syrian regime's 'hypocrisy' over Armenian genocide recognition

A rally in Istanbul commemorated the anniversary of the 1915 mass killing of Armenians [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 14 February, 2020

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Turkey accused the Syrian regime of 'hypocrisy' over its recognition of the Armenian genocide.
Turkey on Thursday slammed the Syrian parliament's recognition of World War I killings of Armenians as genocide as a "hypocrisy", as tensions run high amid deadly clashes in northwest Syria.

"This is a picture of hypocrisy on the part of a regime which has for years committed any kind of massacre on its own people... which has displaced millions and which is well known for its use of chemical weapons," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement. 

Armenia claims 1.5 million died in the killings - for which the Ottoman Empire - the forerunner of modern-day Turkey - bore responsibility.  

Turkey denies to term it as genocide and says the number of deaths was far lower and that Turks also died, blaming the killings on the First World War.

The controversial move by Damascus, however, comes after escalating tensions with its fierce opponent over the deadly clashes in the northwestern province of Idlib this month. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to strike the regime "everywhere" in Syria if any harm is done to its troops in Idlib.

Ankara blasted the genocide claims and blamed Damascus for the "humanitarian tragedy, one of the most grave catastrophes in history, at our border."

"The groundless allegations levelled by a tyrant regime which has lost its legitimacy is a clear indicator of a distorted mindset," the foreign ministry said. 

Turkey, which already hosts more than three million refugees, fears a massive fresh influx from Syria and has kept its border closed to newly displaced people in Idlib.

It has sent reinforcements to the war-torn-country in recent weeks, a move that Damascus says serves to protect rebels and halt its Idlib advance.

Beyond Idlib, Turkey and its proxies have conducted three operations in Syria against both the Islamic State group and Kurdish fighters it views as "terrorists".

Read more: UN says 140,000 displaced in 3 days amid Idlib offensive as Russia and Turkey clash

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

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

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

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