The US House of Representatives passed a resolution on Tuesday officially recognizing the Armenian genocide, a symbolic but unprecedented move that angered Turkey amid already-heightened tensions with Washington.
Cheers and applause erupted when the chamber voted 405 to 11 in support of the measure affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide, a first for the US Congress, where similar measures with such direct language have been introduced for decades but never passed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was honored to join her colleagues in solemn remembrance of one of the great atrocities of the 20th century: The systematic murder of more than 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children by the Ottoman Empire.
The Armenians say the mass killings of their people from 1915 to 1917 amounted to genocide, a claim recognized by some 30 countries.
Turkey strongly denies the accusation of genocide and says that both Armenians and Turks died as a result of the First World War. It puts the death toll in the hundreds of thousands.
Ankara reacted swiftly, rejecting the House's recognition and warning it risks harming ties at an extremely fragile time for international and regional security.
As a meaningless political step, its sole addressees are the Armenian lobby and anti Turkey groups, Turkey's foreign ministry said in a statement.
We believe that American friends of Turkey who support the continuation of the alliance and friendly relations will question this grave mistake and those who are responsible will be judged by the conscience of the American people.
In 2017, newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump criticized the early 20th century killings as one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century, but in keeping with longstanding US practice, he stopped short of using the word genocide.
Before being elected in 2008, Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had pledged to recognize the genocide, but ultimately did not do so during his two terms in office.