Backers of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria passed a motion on Thursday recognizing the Armenian genocide, a move inspired by growing hostility between Assad and Turkey.
The move comes amid escalating violence between Turkish and Syrian forces in and around the city of Idlib and just one day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that his forces would strike the Syrian government forces after they killed 13 Turkish soldiers in the past week.
“If there is the slightest damage to our soldiers on the observation posts or other places, I am announcing from here that we will hit the regime forces everywhere from today, regardless of Idlib’s borders or the lines of the Sochi agreement,” Erdogan said on Thursday.
The Syrian parliament, which is composed solely of backers of Assad’s socialist regime, responded by describing Turkey’s actions as the “toughest in the history of humankind.”
“The parliament … condemns and recognizes the genocide committed against the Armenians by the Ottoman state at the start of the twentieth century,” their statement read. Russia, which remains the Syrian regime’s most important backer, has accused Turkey of violating the agreements it made in 2018 with Moscow on the de-escalation of violence in Idlib.
“We are currently living through a Turkish aggression that relies on the same hateful Ottoman thinking [as] the crimes carried out by Erdogan’s forefathers against the Armenian people,” Parliament Speaker Hammouda Sabbagh said.
The Armenian genocide, which took place between 1915 and 1923, was the systematic murder of the 1.6 million Armenian people, most of them Christians, at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. Many countries around the world have already recognized the genocide, although the United States has still failed to do so.
Turkey vehemently denies the description of events as genocide, instead describing it as a “tragedy” where both sides suffered serious losses. Countries that choose to recognize the events are consequently seen as hostile forces.
Last December, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a motion branding the killings as genocide. The Trump administration dismissed such recognition to continue currying favor with Turkey, which has traditionally been an ally of Washington.
“The position of the Administration has not changed,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a terse two-sentence statement at the time. “Our views are reflected in the president’s definitive statement on this issue from last April.”