BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:00 P.M.) – The Syrian-Armenian town of Kessab in the Latakia Governorate was ‘unlawfully’ taken from Turkey in 1932, Turkish professor Cemil Doğaç İpek of Cankiri Karatekin University told the Daily Sabah.
In response to the Sputnik Op-Ed that claimed the Hatay Province was ‘stolen’ from Syria, the professor argues that the town of Kessab was taken from Turkey during the 1932 French Mandate.
“In 1932, the French Mandate Administration separated Kesab, which was part of the Sanjak/Hatay independent region, violating article 22 of the mandate contract. According to the contract, the mandatory state would pay maximum attention to preserve the territorial integrity of the region it administrated,” he said.
“Especially following the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Armenians from several villages of Kesab sought refuge in Hatay, Turkey. It is meaningful that Armenians chose to come to Vakıflı village at the border of Hatay whereas they could go to Lebanon. The fact that Armenians of Kesab again see Turkey as a safe place to seek refuge in their difficult times is displaying that the region is Turkey’s natural extension and that it needs Turkey’s guarantorship,” İpek he added.
It is worth noting that in 2014, the jihadist rebels launched an offensive from Turkey to capture Kessab and the Jabal Al-Nasr region.
This offensive resulted in the mass displacement of the residents of Kessab until the town was retaken by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
The Hatay Province was handed back to Syria in 1936, despite Turkey’s calls for the region to be independent.
In 1938, Turkey conducted a military buildup in the Hatay Province to force the French troops from the area.
The following year, France entered World War II and agreed to recognize Turkey’s sovereignty over the Hatay Province.