October 10, 2007 / 9:54 PM / in 10 years

FACTBOX: Background to Turkish Armenian massacres dispute

(Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed a symbolic resolution on Wednesday calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians genocide, despite White House warnings it would damage U.S.-Turkish ties.

Here are some key facts about the issue:

* THE BACKGROUND:

-- In the late 19th century the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian minority, numbering an estimated 2 million, was encouraged by exiled groups in the United States, Geneva and in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, to assert their nationalism.

-- Repression by Ottoman irregulars, mainly Kurds, led to the massacre of some 30,000 Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1894-1896. Several thousand more were killed in Constantinople in August 1896 after Armenian extremists seized the Ottoman Bank to draw attention to their cause.

-- Their massacres were halted after the Great Powers threatened to intervene.

* WHAT HAPPENED IN 1915:

-- As the Ottomans fought Russian forces in eastern Anatolia during World War One, many Armenians formed partisan groups to assist the invading Russian armies.

-- On April 24, 1915, Turkey arrested and killed hundreds of Armenian intelligentsia. In May of that year Ottoman commanders began mass deportation of Armenians from eastern Turkey thinking they might assist Russian invaders.

-- Thousands were marched from the Anatolian borders toward Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Armenians say some 1.5 million died either in massacres or from starvation or deprivation as they were marched through the desert.

* TURKEY‘S VIEW:

-- Turkey has always denied there was a systematic campaign to annihilate Armenians, saying that thousands of Turks and Armenians died in inter-ethnic violence as the Ottoman Empire started to collapse and fought a Russian invasion of its eastern provinces during World War One.

-- The modern Turkish republic was established in 1923 after the Ottoman empire collapsed.

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