The Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic, multi-religious empire that at its height spanned from the Danube River in Europe, to North Africa, to as far as the Caucasus and Iraq. In accordance with the laws of the Koran, the rights of all minorities were respected.In the years leading up to World War I, however, the Ottoman Empire grew increasingly weak, and provinces began to secede. When World War I began, the Ottomans sided with the Germans, and the German defeat left the Ottomans in shambles. Armenians joined with the Russian forces, and grouped into guerrilla bands. They began attacking the Turkish Army in the rear, and even before the Russo-Armenian forces arrived, they succeeded in capturing Van, massacred its entire Muslim population, and razed the entire city. They then proceeded to “soften up” the area, and in the process killed thousands of Turks and Kurds. After much hesitation, the Ottomans decided to relocate the Armenian communities to Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, which at that time were still Ottoman provinces. Ottoman archives chronicling this decision show that this decision was not punitive, and that Ottoman soldiers were ordered to escort the Armenians and protect them from any vigilantes. As it turned out, though, this decree had tragic consequences, not just due to the warfare in the region, but due to disease, harsh weather, exposure and hunger. However, a few facts should be noted. First, most Armenian casualties occurred in regions where Ottoman control was the weakest. Secondly, a great many Turks and other Muslims also died from the same causes. Thus, there was neither any planned execution of Armenians, nor such an intention.Demographic studies by Professor Justin McCarthy show that roughly 600,000 Armenians died during the struggles as compared to almost 3 million Muslim deaths. Vartanian claims that 1.5 million Armenians were killed -- however, according to census figures of the British as well as the Ottomans, there were never more than 1.3 million Armenians in Anatolia
Vartanian claims that 1.5 million Armenians were killed. However, according to census figures of the British as well as the Ottomans, there were never more than 1.3 million Armanians in Anatolia
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