Syrian Turkmen

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Syrian Turkmens
Suriye Türkmenleri
Flag of Syrian Turkmens.svg
Total population
Estimates vary considerably
(See population and displacement)
Regions with significant populations
Aleppo Governorate  · Daraa Governorate  · Damascus Governorate  · Homs Governorate  · Hama Governorate  · Latakia Governorate  · Quneitra Governorate
(See Areas of settlement)
Languages
Turkish  · Arabic
Religion
Predominately Sunni Islam, minority Alevis
Related ethnic groups
Oghuz Turks (Turkish people  · Turkish Cypriots  · Iraqi Turkmen  · Turks in Egypt)

Syrian Turkmens (also referred to as Syrian Turkomans or simply Syrian Turks or Turks of Syria) (Arabic: تركمان سوريا‎, Turkish: Suriye Türkmenleri or Suriye Türkleri), are Syrian citizens of mainly Turkish origin whose families had migrated to Syria from Anatolia during the centuries of Ottoman rule (1516-1918).[1] According to a demographic study of Syria published by the Arab Reform Initiative in 2013, the Syrian Turkmen form the third largest ethnic group in the country (after the Arabs and Kurds respectively),[2] however, they may possibly be the second largest ethnic group, outnumbering the Kurds, if Arabized Syrian Turkmen are also taken into account.[2] The majority of Syrian Turkmen are Sunni Muslims.[2]

The Syrian Turkmen community share common genealogical and linguistic ties with the "Turkmen" of Iraq (see Iraqi Turkmens) and Turkey and do not identifity themselves with the Turkmen of Turkmenistan.[3] Thus, Syrian Turkmen share a closer kinship to the Turks of Turkey rather than to the Turkmens of Central Asia.[1] They reside mostly near the Syrian-Turkish border that runs from the northwestern governorates of Idlib and Aleppo to the northeastern governorate of Raqqa. Moreover, many reside in the Turkmen Mountain, with the area's local name Bayırbucak, region near Latakia, the city of Homs and its vicinity until Hama, Damascus, and the southwestern governorates of Dera’a (bordering Jordan) and Quneitra (bordering Israel).[4]

During the Syrian Civil War (2011–Present), Syrian Turkmen have been involved in military actions against Syrian government forces and have looked to Turkey for support and protection. More recently, they united under one official governing body, the Syrian Turkmen Assembly and created the military wing of the assembly, the Syrian Turkmen Brigades, stating to protect Turkmen regions and population and prevent ethnic changes in them.[5] However, not all Turkmens support Turkey's offensive in Syria, which started in late-August 2016, and some have sided with the Syrian Democratic Forces, forming the Seljuk Brigade.

History

Turkic migration to Syria began in the 11th century during the rule of the Seljuk Empire.[4][6] However, most Turkmen settled in the region after the Ottoman sultan Selim I conquered Syria in 1516.[7][8] The Ottoman administration encouraged Turcoman families from Anatolia[1] to establish villages throughout the rural hinterlands of several cities in Ottoman Syria (and later the Syria Vilayet).[4] Migration from Anatolia to Syria was continuous for over 400 years of Ottoman rule, until the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1918; nonetheless, the Syrian Turkmen community continued to reside in the region during the French Mandate and the formation of various Syrian Republics[disambiguation needed].[4]

Seljuk era

Syrian Turkmen have had a presence in Syria since the 11th century,[9] beginning with the Seljuk conquests in the Middle East. The Seljuk Turks opened the way for mass migration of Turkish nomads once they entered northern Syria in 1071, and took Damascus in 1078 and Aleppo in 1086.[10]

By the twelfth century the Turkic Zengid dynasty (a vassal of the Seljuk Empire) continued to settle Turkmens in the wilayah of Aleppo to confront attacks from the Crusaders. In return for their military service, the Turkic rulers distributed fiefs in the area to the Turkmens.[9]

Mamluk era

A Mamluk from Aleppo.

In 1260 the Mamluk Sultanate – ruled by a line of Turkish and Circassian sultans – entered Syria in response to the Mongol invasions. Whilst Cairo remained the seat of the Mamluk Sultanate, Damascus became their second capital.[11] Hence, by the thirteenth century the Turkmens formed a part of the armies of Damascus and Aleppo, and permanently settled in these regions.[12]

After the Bahri sultan of the Mamluks, Baibars, destroyed Qara he settled Turkmens in the town in 1265. Two years later he settled more Turkmens in the Syrian coast to protect the region. The Turkmen were called on to assist in the capture of Margat by the Muslim commander of the Krak des Chevaliers in 1280.[12]

The late Mamluk-era writer Ahmad al-Qalqashandi noted that Turkmens formed contingents in the regular armies of greater Syria. By the 15th-century the Muslim writer Khalil az-Zahiri recorded 180,000 Turkmen soldiers and 20,000 Kurdish soldiers in Syria.[12]

The Turkmens mainly lived in the provinces of Aleppo and were settled in suburbs such as al-Hadir al-Sulaymani; they also live near the coast and the Jawlan (i.e. Golan Heights).[12]

Ottoman era

An Ottoman market in Damascus.

Mamluk rule of Syria ended once the Ottoman Sultan Selim I conquered the region in 1516.[13] Thereafter, the Ottoman administration encouraged Turkish nomads from Anatolia to settle in strategic areas of the region. By the sixteenth century the Ottomans continued to settle Turkmens in the rural areas around Homs and Hama to keep the Bedouin in check and serve as mütesellim.[14]

The Misak-ı Millî ("national oath") sought to include the Aleppo Vilayet and the Zor Sanjak in the proposals for the new borders of a Turkish nation in 1920.

Turkish migration from Anatolia to Ottoman Syria was continuous for almost 400 years, until Ottoman rule ended in 1918.[8] The Turkish settlement throughout the rural hinterlands of several Syrian cities was a state-organized population transfer which was used to counter the demographic weight and influence of other ethnic groups in the region. Furthermore, the Turkmen served as the local gendarmes to help assert Ottoman authority.[4]

By the late nineteenth century, many Turkmen refugees who lost their lands to Russia in the European regions of the Ottoman Empire (particularly in the Balkans) settled in Ottoman Syria between 1878 to 1906 and were provided with new lands by the Ottoman state.[15] According to Dawn Chatty, these Turkmen settlers (alongside Circassian and Chechyan refugees) became loyal subjects to the sultan and were "driven to succeed in agriculture and ready to defend themselves against any Bedouin claims to the land on which they had built their villages".[15]

Vilayet of Aleppo

According to the French geographer Vital Cuinet (1833-96), the Ottoman Turks (excluding Turkmen nomads) formed the second largest ethnic group, after the Syrian Arabs, in the Aleppo Sanjak. In his best known work La Turquie d'Asie, géographie administrative: statistique, descriptive et raisonnée de chaque province de l'Asie Mineure he stated that the demographic structure of the Sanjak was as follows:

Ethnic and religious groups Estimated population in the Aleppo Sanjak (ca.1890-95)[16]
Syrian Arab 300,541
Ottoman Turk 159,787
Kurdish and Turkmen nomads 103,744
Greek Catholic 23,315
Syrian Catholic 20,913
Syrian Jacobite 20,594
Jew 19,633
Greek Orthodox 18,665
Armenian Apostolic 17,999
Chaldean Catholic 17,027
Armenian Catholic 15,563
Chaldean non-Uniate 15,300
Protestant 9,033
Circassian 9,000
Other Muslims (Fellah, Ansarieh, Tahtaji, Nusairi) 26,713
Other Catholic (Latin and Maronite) 4,447
Total 782,274

French Mandate

The Alexandretta/Hatay Question

In 1938 the Hatay State was formed in the Sanjak of Alexandretta of the French Mandate of Syria. It was annexed by Turkey in 1939 and became the Hatay Province.

In 1921 the Treaty of Ankara established Alexandretta (present-day Hatay) - which had a Turkish majority population[17] - under an autonomous regime under French Mandate of Syria. The Turks were initially satisfied with this agreement because Article 7 declared that "The Turkish inhabitants of this district shall enjoy every facility for their cultural development. The Turkish language shall have official recognition." Moreover, Article 9 stated that the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the first Ottoman ruler Osman I, "shall remain, with its appurtenances, the property of Turkey."[18]

In September 1936 France announced that it would grant full independence to Syria, which would also include Alexandretta. The President of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, responded with a demand that Alexandretta be given its own independence.[19] The issue was brought before the League of Nations, which sent a mission to the district in January 1937. The mission concluded that the Turks constituted a majority and by July 1938 elections were held in the province; the Turks formed a majority of 22 seats in a 40-seat parliament of the newly established Hatay State, which remained a joint Franco-Turkish protectorate.[17] The Hatay State began using Turkish flags, and petitioned Ankara to unify Hatay to the Republic of Turkey. France finally agreed to the Turkish annexation on July 23, 1939.[19]

Today, Bayırbucak region, the coastal and rural section covering the northern Latakia area, has a dominant Turkmen majority and is considered by Turks a "stretch of the modern Turkish Hatay Province".[20]

Population

There are no reliable estimates on the total number of Syrian Turkmen residing in the country because official censuses have only asked citizens about their religion. Hence, the Syrian State has not allowed its citizens to declare their ethnic origin or language.[21] The UNHCR points out that the majority of Syrians are considered "Arab", however, "this is a term based on spoken language (Arabic), not ethnicity".[21] Consequently, this has caused great uncertainty in placing estimates on the total Syrian Turkmen population (including Arabized Turkmen) with estimates varying considerably. Professor Taef El-Azhari points out that the Turkmen have "always been the forgotten minority in the area despite their large population".[22] Nonetheless, the Turkmen are believed to form the third largest ethnic group (after the Arabs and Kurds respectively);[23][24][2][21] however, if Arabized Turkmen are also taken into account, they might be the second largest ethic group, outnumbering the Kurds.[2]

In 1979 the Dutch scholar Nikolaos van Dam suggested that Syrian Turkmen were "almost exclusively Sunni Muslims", forming 3% of Syria's population.[25] Daniel Pipes also suggested that in the 1980s, linguistically, the Turkmens (i.e. those who spoke their mother tongue only) formed 3% of the population.[26] More recently, Pierre Beckouche suggested that before 2011 the Sunni Muslim Turkmen formed 4% of Syria's population.[27] However, these scholars do not mention estimates on the Arabized Turkmen nor on the Alevi Turkmen population. According to a country profile of Syria published by Ohio State University, in 2008 the Syrian Turkmen totaled approximately 8% to 9% of Syria's population.[23]

Since the Syrian civil war, a demographic study by the Syrian Arab academic Mustafa Khalifa, published by the Arab Reform Initiative in 2013, stated that the Syrian Turkmen constituted approximately 4-5% of Syria's total population, thereby forming the third largest ethnic group in the country.[2] However, Kahlifa also points out that the population figures are significantly higher if Arabized Turkmen are also taken into account, and that Syrian Turkmen might be the second biggest group in the country, outnumbering the Kurds, because of the fact that only 30% of Turkmen speak their mother tongue whilst the remainder are Arabized.[2] Indeed, at the beginning of the civil war, in 2011, Belgian Professor Pierre Piccinin estimated that the total Syrian Turkmen population, including Arabized Turkmen, formed 15% to 20% of Syria's population.[28] Piccinin also argued that Thomas Pierret's claim that Turkmen form "a few percent of the population" is incorrect and invites Pierret, a critic of his field study, "to take the risks to go there [to Syria] and to get information correctly."[28]

More recently, in 2015, Dr. Salman Hamoud Falah, a specialist in Druze history, stated that the Turkmen formed approximately 3% to 7% of Syria's total population.[29] In another demographic study by the Syrian researchers Sinan Hatahet and Ayman Aldassouky, published by Al Sharq Forum in 2017, they estimated that the Sunni Syrian Turkmen alone formed 6.8% of the population before the Arab Spring[24] and that, after six years of civil war, asylum statistics alongside death and mortality rates suggest that the Sunni Turkmen population formed 6% of Syria's population in 2016.[30] However, they did not provide any data on Arabized or Alevi Turkmen.

Estimates

The BBC and the New York Times reiterate the lack of reliable population figures and state that the number of Syrian Turkmen could range from hundreds of thousands up to 3.5 million.[7][1] In 1996 the Deutsches Orient–Institut stated that estimates ranged between 800,000 and 1 million.[31] By 2005 Professor Taef El-Azhari, from Qatar University, suggested that the Turkmen population exceeded one million.[22] Furthermore, since the civil war, Sebastien Peyrouse, a senior research fellow with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, and Hugh Eakin and Alisa Roth from The New York Review of Books have stated there was around one million Turkmen in Syria.[3][32] According to Belgian Professor of History and Political Science Pierre Piccinin, reporting his first visit to Syria in La Libre Belgique in 2011, he stated that there was 1.5 million Turkish-speaking Turkmen; in addition, he estimated that the total number of Turkmen was between 3.5 and 6 million (including those who speak Arabic as their first language).[28]

Contemporary Arabic sources since the Syrian Civil War have suggested similar estimates. For example, the Syrian weekly Enab Baladi has stated that despite the absence of accurate statistics on the number of Turkmen in Syria, that their numbers are estimated at between 750,000 and 1.5 million.[33] BBC Arabic suggests that the population is estimated to number between 1.5 million to 3 million[34] whilst Elaph suggests a population of 1.5 million to 3.5 million.[35] According to the Damascus Times, the estimated number is 1.5 million, however, Turkish sources suggest 3.5 million.[36] Nonetheless, Erem News has reported a total population of 3.5 million[37] and Shaam News Network states that some references indicate that the population ranges between 3 million to 3.5 million.[38] Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has reported that several sources suggest that the Turkmen population exceeds the number of Kurds, making them the second largest ethnic group in Syria.[39]

However, some Western sources have also suggested, or pointed out, much lower estimates. For example, the Harvard Divinity School has claimed that the Syrian Turkmen number over 100,000;[40] in addition, it has also stated that the Syrian Kurds number 160,000[41] – figures that are far lower than either community claims. ABC Online states that whilst statistics on the Syrian Turkmen population vary, many estimates suggest around 100,000.[42] However, the IBTimes acknowledges that the population is "hard to pin down" and that whilst the Associated Press reports 100,000 Syrian Turkmen, the BBC reports a population of 1.5 to 3.5 million.[43] The Jamestown Foundation and the Washington Post have both suggested a population of 200,000 but also recognise that Syrian Turkmen leaders claim a population of more than 3.5 million.[44][45] However, a more recent publication in the Jamestown Foundation, in 2016, acknowledged that there was 250,000 Turkmen in Bayırbucak alone.[46] Time Magazine has asserted that there was 200,000 Turkmen living in Syria before the civil war.[47] However, Al Jazeera English has reported that "hundreds of thousands" of Turkmen have been displaced since the civil war began in 2011;[48] for example, an estimated 300,000 Syrian Turkmen have been displaced from northern Latakia alone.[49]

Areas of settlement

Most Syrian Turkmen live in the area around the northern Euphrates, near the Syrian-Turkish border; however, they are also scattered throughout several governorates, stretching towards central Syria and the southern region near the Golan Heights. In particular, the Turkmen are concentrated in the urban centers and countryside of six governorates of Syria: in the Aleppo Governorate, the Damascus Governorate, the Homs Governorate, the Hama Governorate, the Latakia Governorate and the Quneitra Governorate.[2][50] There are also smaller Turkmen communities living in the Daraa Governorate[50] as well as in Tartous, Raqqa, and Idlib governorates.[51]

In the Aleppo governorate, the main locales in which the Turkmen live include the city of Aleppo and the countryside in the northern part of the governorate. They also live in the villages next to the cities of Azaz, Al-Bab, and Jarabulus.[2] The city of Aleppo also has a significant urban Turkmen population; with Bustan al-Basha (Bostanpaşa), Haydariyah (Haydariye), Holluk (Bağrıyanık), Sheikh Hizir (Şeyh Hızır), Sheikh Feriz (Şeyh Firuz), Saladdin (Selattin), Owaijah (Uveyce) being neighborhoods composed mainly of ethnic Turkmens.[52][53] Çobanbey is also a Turkmen-dominated town.

In the Latakia governorate the Turkmen live mostly in the Turkmen Mountains (Jabal al-Turkman), Al-Badrusiyah, Umm al-Tuyour, Asobah, and in various villages near the Syrian-Turkish border.[2] There is also a number of Turkmen districts, including Bayırbucak and Jimmel Harresi. In total, there is 265 Turkmen villages in the surrounding regions.[50]

In the Damascus governorate the Turkmen live in the city of Damascus, and Harret Al Turkman is a Turkmen district where Turkish is predominantly spoken.[50]

In the Homs governorate the Turkmen mostly live in the city of Homs and the surrounding villages, such as Kara Avshar, Inallu, and Kapushak.[50] They also live in Gharnatah, Al-Krad, Burj Qa'i, al-Sam’lil, and in villages in the Houla plain.[2]

In the Hama governorate the Turkmen live in the city of Hama and are also scattered in numerous villages around the district.[2] For example, Baba Amir Haras is a prominent Turkmen district.[50] There is also Turkmen living in Aqrab and Talaf.[54]

In the Quneitra governorate the Turkmen are scattered in numerous villages in the districts of Quneitra.[2] They predominantly reside in the villages of Dababiye, Rezaniye, Sindiyane, Aynul Kara, Aynul Simsim, Ulayka, Aynul Alak, Ahmediye, Kafer Nafah, Mugir, Hafir, Hüseyniye, and Ayn Ayse.[50]

Diaspora

Since the Syrian Civil War hundreds of thousands of Syrian Turkmen have been internally displaced.[48] Moreover, many Syrian Turkmen refugees have been forced to leave the country and to settle in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Northern Iraq[55] and Western Europe.

In particular, approximately 300,000[56] to 500,000[57] Syrian Turkmen have taken refuge in the Republic of Turkey. Moreover, there is between 125,000 and 150,000[58] Syrian Turkmen refugees in Lebanon, outnumbering the long-established Turkish minority of Lebanon.

Culture

Language

According to The Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, the Turkish language is the third most widely used language in Syria (after Arabic and Kurdish).[59] It is spoken by the Turkmen minority mostly in villages east of the Euphrates, north of Aleppo, and on the northern coast of the country, along the Syrian-Turkish border.[59][60][61][62] In addition, there are Turkish language islands in the Qalamun area and the Homs area.[59] Moreover, Syrian Arabic dialects have also borrowed many loanwords from Turkish.[59]

However, Mustafa Khalifa points out that, linguistically, the Turkmen are divided into two groups: (1) the rural Turkmen who make up 30% of the Turkmen in Syria and who have kept their mother tongue, and, (2) the urban Arabized (i.e. Arabic-speaking) Turkmen who no longer speak their mother language.[2]

Various dialects of Turkish are spoken throughout Syria: in Aleppo they speak a Kilis and Antep dialect; in Tell Abyad and Raqqa they speak an Urfa dialect; and in Bayırbucak they speak a Hatay/Yayladağı dialect of the Turkish language.[63] Some Syrian Turkmen living far from the Turkish border, such as in Homs, have managed to preserve their national identity but are more competent in speaking the Arabic language. In Damascus Syrian Turkmen speak the Turkish language with a Yörük dialect.[63]

The Al-Adiliyah Mosque (Turkish: Adliye Camii) in Aleppo was built by the Ottomans in the mid-sixteenth century.

Religion

The majority of Syrian Turkmen practice the Sunni branch of Islam.[2][64][25]

The Tekkiye Mosque (Turkish: Tekkiye Camiii) in Damascus was built by the Ottomans in the mid-sixteenth century.

Pierre Beckouche has suggested that before 2011 the Sunni Muslim Turkmen accounted for 4% of the country's population.[27] However, the Syrian researchers Sinan Hatahet and Ayman Aldassouky have estimated that prior to the Arab Spring the Sunni Turkmen formed 6.8% of the country's population;[24] moreover, they suggest that, taking asylum statistics alongside death and mortality rates into consideration, the Sunni Turkmen population decreased slightly to 6% of the population in 2016.[30]

There are also some "nawar people" (gypsies) who speak Turkish and self-identify as Turkmen; they belong to the Sunni, Shitte, and Alevi/Bektashi religious groups.[65]

Kurdish scholar Michael Izady has stated that the Syrian Turkmen Alevis formed 0.7% of Syria's population, however, he does not provide any statistics on the Sunni Turkmen population.[66]

Discrimination

In Syria, since the rule of Hafez al-Assad, there has been a ban on Syrian Turkmen communities publishing works in Turkish.[7]

Syrian Turkmen occupied a low rung on the societal ladder, as reported by Al Bawaba, it was stated that Assad always sought to benefit his politically dominant Shiite religious minority. The report quoted Bayırbucak Turkmens as highlighting, "They would take Alawites first no matter what, even if they had degrees, Turkmens couldn't find jobs". Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, Syrian Turkmen are fighting to turn the tide and gain equal rights and protection of their culture, identity and language in the after-war Syria.[67]

Syrian civil war

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, hundreds of thousands of Syrian Turkmen have been displaced from their homes and thousands have been killed due to President Bashar al-Assad's government, as well as the terrorist attacks carried out by "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), and by forced deportations enforced by the YPG fighters. Whilst Turkmen villages in Hama, Homs, and Latakia have been destroyed by the Syrian government, the Turkmen villages in Aleppo have been entirely controlled by ISIL.[68]

Syrian Turkmen, with the support of the Republic of Turkey, have taken up arms against the Syrian government.[7] Several Syrian Turkmen parties united under the Syrian Turkmen Assembly, which is affiliated with the National Coalition opposition group. In 2012 the Syrian Turkmen Brigades was reported to be about 2,000-10,000 strong.[7] A Second Coastal Division was formed in 2015 and along with another extensive Turkmen militia group Sultan Murad Division, the Turkmen brigades are closely affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The Syrian Turkmens main opponents are the regular Syrian army and ISIL, with YPG being the regional opponent. Another Syrian Turkmen unit - the Seljuk Brigade and Manbij Turkmen Brigade- has sided with the Kurdish-led People's Protection Units (YPG) and joined the US-backed Kurdish-led opposition coalition called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).[7] Overall, the Turkmen brigades have approximately 14,000[69] to 25,000[70] fighters against the Syrian government.

Displacement

Syrian Turks waving Turkish and Syrian flags whilst shouting slogans: "No To Demographic Changes in Syria' and 'No To Genocide' during the December 2016 protests in London.

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war many Syrian refugees (including Syrian Turkmen) have sought asylum in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Northern Iraq,[55] as well as several Western European countries. The Turkmen are estimated to form 6.9% of Syrian refugees.[30] Moreover, many Syrian Turkmen have also been internally displaced from their homes, forcing them to settle in other parts of Syria.

In 2012 the UN Refugee Agency had stated that the Syrian Turkmen formed a significant number of the first wave of refugees who entered Turkey.[71]

According to Al Jazeera English 300,000 Syrian Turkmen from northern Latakia alone were displaced due to the escalation of Russian attacks on Turkmen areas in 2015, after a Russian plane was shot down on the Turkey-Syria border.[49]

By October 2015 the Syrian independent newspaper Zaman Al Wasl reported that 125,000 to 150,000 Syrian Turkmen refugees arrived in Lebanon, and hence they now outnumber the Turkish minority of Lebanon.[58][72] Moreover, in May 2016, the Russian government-controlled news agency Sputnik claimed that there are 300,000 Syrian Turkmen refugees in Turkey.[56] By December 2016 the Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ümit Yalçın stated that Turkey opened its borders to 500,000 Syrian Turkmen.[57]

By the Syrian Government

The Syrian Government of president Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia since 2015, have targeted several areas populated by the Syrian Turkmen, as they were largely involved in anti-government attacks. By October 2015, a Russian bombings in Aleppo forced 350,000 Syrian refugees to head to Turkey - of which 50,000 were Syrian Turkmen.[73] Thereafter, in November 2015 Russian raids on Syrian Turkmen areas displaced 300,000 Turkmen living in northern Latakia alone.[74]

On February 2, 2016, at least seven women and children were killed by Russian air strikes in a Syrian Turkmen village in the northern countryside of Homs.[75] In the same month Russian warplanes had staged 600 strikes on Syrian Turkmen villages, displacing approximately 10,000 people.[76]

By the YPG

There have also been reports that Kurdish YPG fighters had forced thousands of Arabs and Syrian Turkmen, as well as Kurdish, civilians from their homes in areas in the Autonomous Administration of Rojava.[77][78] In June 2015 the Syrian Turkmen were forcefully displaced from their homes in villages south of Hasakah and Tal Abyad.[79] According to a 2015 report published by Amnesty International witnesses saw YPG fighters gather residents from Hammam al-Turkman into the local school and instructed 1,400 Turkmen families to leave the area.[80] The head of the local civilian council in Tel Abyad, Akram Dada, told Amnesty International that YPG fighters also forced 800 Syrian Turkmen to leave Mela Berho in July 2015.[81] Approximately 200 Syrian Turkmen refugees fled to Urfa, in southern Turkey, while 700 more fled to the eastern areas of Tal Abyad, once the Kurds seized the town of Tell Hammam al-Turkman from ISIL - which the YPG accused the locals of collaborating with.[82]

Turkmen attacks

According to Harout Ekmanian, reporting for Hetq Online, in March 2014 the Turkmen brigades took a pioneering role in an attack against their Armenian neighbours in Kessab, located in the Latakia Governorate.[83]

Notable people

Subhi Barakat, of Turkish origin, was the first President of Syria, taking office in 1922.[84]
Damascus-born Suat Hayri Ürgüplü served as the 11th Prime Minister of Turkey in 1965.[85]
Damascus-born Khalil Mardam Bey was the composer of the Syrian National Anthem. His family, the Mardam-Bey's, were of Turkish origin.[86]
Sabah Qabbani, of Turkish origin, was the 5th Ambassador of Syria to the United States, taking office in 1974.[87]

Several Turkish families, such as the al-Atassi's (Atasi's), Al-Azm, Qawuqji's, Quwwatli's (Kuvvetli's) and Shishakli's (Çiçekçi's), continued to rule Syria as Prime Ministers or Presidents.[88] However, by the 1960s the pan-Arab Baathist movement of the Al-Assad family sidelined non-Arabs from politics.[89]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d The New York Times (2015). "Who Are the Turkmens of Syria?". In the context of Syria, though, the term ["Turkmen"] is used somewhat differently, to refer mainly to people of Turkish heritage whose families migrated to Syria from Anatolia during the centuries of the Ottoman period — and thus would be closer kin to the Turks of Turkey than to the Turkmens of Central Asia...Q. How many are there? A. No reliable figures are available, and estimates on the number of Turkmens in Syria and nearby countries vary widely, from the hundreds of thousands up to 3 million or more. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Khalifa, Mustafa (2013), The impossible partition of Syria, Arab Reform Initiative, p. 4, Turkmen are the third largest ethnic group in Syria, making up around 4-5% of the population. Some estimations indicate that they are the second biggest group, outnumbering Kurds, drawing on the fact that Turkmen are divided into two groups: the rural Turkmen who make up 30% of the Turkmen in Syria and who have kept their mother tongue, and the urban Turkmen who have become Arabised and no longer speak their mother language. Turkmen are mostly found in the urban centres and countryside of six governorates of Syria: Aleppo, Damascus, Homs, Hama, Latakia and Quneitra...The overwhelming majority of Turkmen in Syria are Sunni Muslims. 
  3. ^ a b Peyrouse, Sebastien (2015), Turkmenistan: Strategies of Power, Dilemmas of Development, Routledge, p. 62, ISBN 0230115527, There are nearly one million [Turkmen] in Syria... Many Turkic peoples who have lived for centuries in the Middle East have been called Turkmen, Turkman, and Turkoman without being seen a part of the Turkmen nation in the Turkmenistani meaning of the term... The majority of "Turkmen" in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey have been established there for several centuries and have no relationship with contemporary Turkmenistan. "Turkmen" is often used to designate Turkic-speakers in Arab areas, or Sunnis in Shitte areas. In this case, "Oghuz" more accurately identifies the common genealogical and linguistic ties. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Heras, Nicholas A. (2013), "Syrian Turkmen Join Opposition Forces in Pursuit of a New Syrian Identity", Terrorism Monitor, 11 (11), Syria’s Turkmen communities are descendants of Oghuz Turkish tribal migrants who began moving from Central Asia into the area of modern-day Syria during the 10th century, when the Turkic Seljuk dynasty ruled much of the region. Under the Ottomans, Turkmen were encouraged to establish villages throughout the rural hinterlands of several Syrian cities in order to counter the demographic weight and influence of the settled and nomadic and semi-nomadic Arab tribesmen that populated the region. Syrian Turkmen were also settled to serve as local gendarmes to help assert Ottoman authority over roads and mountain passes in diverse regions such as the Alawite-majority, northwestern coastal governorate of Latakia. After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, communities of Turkmen continued to reside in the country. 
  5. ^ Dispossessed Turkomans in Syria wait for Turkey’s support Archived 2012-12-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Özkaya 2007, 112.
  7. ^ a b c d e f BBC (2015). "Who are the Turkmen in Syria?". There are no reliable population figures, but they are estimated to number between about half a million and 3.5 million. 
  8. ^ a b Öztürkmen, Ali; Duman, Bilgay; Orhan, Oytun (2015), "Suriye'de Değişimin Ortaya Çıkardığı Toplum: Suriye Türkmenleri" (PDF), Ortadoğu Stratejik Araştırmalar Merkezi, 83 (0): 5, Yavuz Sultan Selim, 1516 yılında Mercidabık’ta Memlukluları yenerek bugünkü Suriye topraklarını Osmanlılara bağlamıştır. 1516’dan sonra yönetimi Osmanlı Devleti’ne geçen bölge 1918 yılına kadar kesintisiz olarak 402 yıl boyunca Türklerin hakimiyeti altında kalmıştır. Bu dönemde Suriye’de Türkmen yerleşimi artarak devam etmiş ve bölgede önemli bir Türk nüfusu oluşmuştur...Suriye’de Türkçe konuşan Türkmen sayısının yaklaşık bir buçuk milyon, Türkçeyi unutmuş Türkmenlerle beraber sayının 3,5 milyon civarında olduğu belirtilmektedir. 
  9. ^ a b Ziadeh, Nicola A. (1953), Urban life in Syria under the early Mamlūks, American University of Beirut, p. 45, ISBN 0837131626 
  10. ^ Commins, David Dean (2004), Historical dictionary of Syria, Scarecrow Press, p. 231, ISBN 0-8108-4934-8 
  11. ^ Commins 2004, 184.
  12. ^ a b c d Ziadeh 1953, 46.
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    Figure 4: Refugees by sect, Arab Sunni 69.7%; Kurds 10.2%; Christians 10.2%; Turkmen: 6.9%; Alawis: 1.0%; Druze: 1%; Ismaeili: 1.0%
     
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