Document:The ‘Stolen Province’: Why Turkey Was Given A Corner Of Syria By France 80 Years Ago
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The ‘Stolen Province’: Why Turkey Was Given A Corner Of Syria By France 80 Years Ago
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming more and more embroiled in a direct fight with Syria over Idlib Province. The fighting is directly across the border from Hatay, a province which was given to Turkey in 1939 after a disputed referendum.
Turkey has lost a total of 54 soldiers in Idlib province this month as Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies have accused Turkey of failing to honour a deal to separate extremist groups from other fighters in the region.
Then it suddenly dips and heads southwards for about 80 miles, before turning west again and meeting the Mediterranean just beyond Mount Kilic.
Now called Hatay Province, it contains the cities of Antakya (Antioch), and İskenderun (Alexandretta) and the port of Dörtyol, which was known as Chork Marzban to its Armenian population before the genocide which finally ended in 1923.
Under the Treaty of Lausanne, Hatay Province was part of the French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon but just before the Second World War broke out, Paris suddenly decided to hold a referendum and Hatay voted to become part of Turkey.
In the late 1930s, France was growing increasingly worried about an impending war with Hitler’s Germany and French diplomats were desperately trying to sign up potential allies in Europe and the Middle East.
Hatay was at the time a mixture of nationalities - Turks, Turkmen, Sunni Arabs, Alawites (Alevis), Armenians and even some Greeks - with no clear majority, but Ankara is widely believed to have bussed in Turks from other parts of Anatolia and rigged the result of the referendum.
But construction was postponed by the conflict and now Turkey and Syria have had a falling out, with Erdogan furious at Assad for daring to target Turkish troops even though they were siding with Jihadist rebels.
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- "Airstrike in Syria kills 33 Turkish soldiers"
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