Syrian Turkmen

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Syrian Turkmens
Total population
Variously estimated at 200,000,[1] 750,000-1,500,000,[2] or 3,500,000[3][4]
Regions with significant populations
Aleppo  · Damascus  · Jazira  · Hama  · Homs  · Latakia[5]
Turkish  · Arabic [6][7]  · Azerbaijani[8]
Predominately Sunni Islam[9]
Related ethnic groups
Oghuz Turks (Turks  · Azerbaijanis  · Iraqi Turkmens  · Egyptian Turkmens)

Syrian Turkmen (also referred to as Turks in Syria, Syrian Turkoman or Syrian Turks) (Turkish: Suriye Türkleri) are Syrian citizens of Turkic heritage and identity. They and their ancestors have lived in present-day Syria since Seljuk times in the 11th century.[10]

During the Syrian Civil War, the Turkmen population of Syria were involved in military actions against Syrian government forces and looked to Turkey for support and protection. More recently, they united under one official governing body, the Syrian Turkmen Assembly and creating the military wing of the assembly, the Syrian Turkmen Brigades, to protect Turkmen regions and population and prevent demographic changes in them.[11]


Main articles: Zengid dynasty and Ottoman Syria
Other flags used by Syrian Turkmen and Syrian Turkmen Brigades on battlefield and various places.

In the late 11th century, Syria was first conquered by the Seljuk Turks. After Seljuk Empire was separated into four parts, Malikshah's brother, Tutush, established the Syrian Seljuk State in 1079.[12] Syria was ruled by the Seljuks of Syria till 1117,[13] following which Artuqids, Zengids, Ayyubids and Mamluk Sultanate governed the region. Syria was conquered in 1516 by the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, who defeated the Mamlukes at the Battle of Marj Dabiq near Aleppo in northern Syria. According to the population records of Ottoman Empire in 1518, the total population of Aleppo province was 54,276, of whom 36,217 belonged to the Turkmen population.[14]

Turkmen Settlements and Regions[edit]

Geographical distribution of Syrian Turkmen in numbers as of 2015, in Syria.

Turkmen came to Syria in several migration waves. Sometimes the Seljuks and the Mamelukes living in the area adopted the Turkmen in their armies, and some Turkmen became aristocrats. Linda Cichlr wrote about these Turkmen aristocratic families in her book about the city of Damascus.[citation needed]

There are several cities and villages in Syria with significant Turkmen communities. The Turkish Encyclopedia claims there are 523 Turkmen villages in Syria.[15] The main areas of Turkmen concentration are the regions straddling the Turkish border, particularly in the Aleppo and Latakia Governorates. The cities of Aleppo, Manbij, al-Bab, Jarabulus, Azaz, Qatma all have significant Turkmen populations, largely descendants of the Barak tribes, which also dominate the Turkish areas of Killis, Antep and Urfa. In the Latakia Governorate, the border regions of Ras al-Bassit and Bayir (Baer) are predominantly populated by Turkmens.[15]

In the vicinity of Hama and Homs, there are a number of villages which have a majority Turkmen population, including Houla, Aqrab and Talaf.[16]


A map of religious and ethnic communities of Syria and Lebanon (1935)

There are no clear estimates on the number of Turkmen in Syria. Several sources put them at around 100,000[17] to 200,000.[1] Some Syrian Turkmen on the other hand have claimed to number between 750,000 and 1,500,000,[10] while the Turkmen National Council announced 3.5 million as the number of Turkmen in Syria.[18]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b AFP (31 January 2013). "Turkmen in joint battle 'for Syria democracy'". NOW. Retrieved 4 February 2013. 
  2. ^ World Population Review, Syrian Population 2013, "Other major groups in Syria are Kurds (2 million), Syrian Turkmen (0.75-1.5 million) and Assyrians (0.9 to 1.2 million)."
  3. ^ ORSAM Report No: 150, Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies
  4. ^ ORSAM Report No: 83, The Turkmens of Syria, Quoted from page 16 (in Turkish): "Değişik kaynaklar ve saha çalışmasında elde edilen verilerden yola çıkarak Suriye Türkmenlerinin toplam nüfusu 3,5 milyon civarındadır."
  5. ^ Commins 2004, 268.
  6. ^ Galié & Yildiz 2005, 18.
  7. ^ Karpat 2004, 436.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Shora 2008, 236.
  10. ^ a b Özkaya 2007, 112.
  11. ^ Dispossessed Turkomans in Syria wait for Turkey’s support
  12. ^ Gábor Ágoston, Bruce Alan Masters, (2009), Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, InfoBase Publishing, Google Books, p.516
  13. ^ Sigfried J. de Laet, (2000), History of Humanity: From the seventh to the sixteenth century, p.828, UNESCO, Google Books p.828
  14. ^ Öztürk Mustafa, 1616 Tarihli Halep Avarız-Hane Defteri, Read Online, p.255 (in Turkish).
  15. ^ a b The Turkmen of Syria: exposed early to assimilation and deportation policies, Page: 4-5, Iraqi Turkmen Human Rights Foundation, February 15, 2012, Paper No: Art.1-A1512,
  16. ^ Hartmann, 2012, p. 54.
  17. ^ Phillips, David J. (1 January 2001). Peoples on the Move: Introducing the Nomads of the World. William Carey Library. p. 301. ISBN 978-0-87808-352-7. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  18. ^