In Urfa massacres had begun in the middle of August, during August 15–19, 400 people were driven outside the town and killed, Armenians in Urfa rather being deported and killed preferred to put up a resistance.
On May 27, 1915, several hundred Armenians were held captive by Ottoman authorities in Urfa. The community held a meeting in order to adopt a solution. The participants thought of many different tactics. Mgrdich Yotneghparian and his partisans were among the few who preferred to fight to the death rather than yielding to the Ottomans. The Adana massacre of 1909 had made Yotneghparian increasingly cautious of the new Young Turk government and the Turkish constitution.
Led by the charismatic Mgerdich, the resistance of the Armenian fighters in the heavily fortified stone houses lasted sixteen days and was eventually broken only with the help of a reinforcement contingent of six thousand Turkish troops, reportedly equipped with heavy artillery.