//ed.note: internet-digital version of article unavailable.//
(HaberTürk Newspaper, 7 June 2017)
Once upon an Ottoman time in Syria...
Historian Enes Demir's new book "In Light of New Documents - The
Essential Territory of the National Pact", shows that up until 1922,
in the midst of Turkey's War of Independence, Rakka was still part of
Turkey. The book is the most comprehensive one written thus far with
regard to the Syrian cities of Tel Abyad, Haseke, Resulayn, İdlib, Rakka,
Cerablus, Halep (Aleppo), Ayn-ül Arap, Afrin, Azez, Sincar, Telafar,
Zaho and Deyl-ü Zor.
Information about the history, geography, population, demographics and
importance of these cities during the War of Independence is presented,
based on archival documents from the State Archives and the General
With regard to Rakka, in particular, it was under the control of the
Ottoman Army throughout the course of World War I. The Fırat Group
of the Ottoman Sixth Army was stationed there. When the Mondros
Agreement was signed on 30 October 1918, ending the war between the
Ottoman Empire and the Allies, the 2nd Ottoman Infantry Battalion was
in Rakka and the nearest British unit was 350 kilometers to the east at
Ane, which today is on the Iraq-Syria border.
The Turkish Independence Army's arrival in Rakka coincided with the
beginning of the War of Independence and there were many skirmishes
with the French there for dominance of Rakka. The result was France's
withdrawal from Rakka and its control secured by Turkish forces. The
local populace appealed to the Turkish commanders to have Turkish
administration returned to the city.
The Turkish commander in Rakka, Kenan Bey, wrote to Mustafa Kemal
(Atatürk) recommending that Ankara send a 'kaymakam' (administrative
district chief) to Rakka to arrange municipal and security measures.
Mustafa Kemal approved Kenan Bey's proposal, noting that Rakka was
linked at that time to Urfa, to the north in Turkey proper. The 'kaymakam'
was to be appointed by Hacim Paşa, the leader of the local tribes
supporting the Independence Movement, but would report to the Urfa
In his response to Kenan Bey, though, Mustafa Kemal added that a
kaymakam for Rakka could be appointed directly from Ankara and he
asked that the city's financial affairs be put in order and the area's
populace protected. During negotiations prior to the agreement made
between Ankara and France regarding the region on 21 October 1921,
the Turkish delegation asserted that Rakka should be within the borders
of Turkey and that this border should run to the south of Rakka.
Independent Turkey's borders would eventually form from