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Obama Commemorates Massacre of Armenians, Does Not Call It Genocide

FILE - People lay flowers at a memorial to Armenians killed by the Ottoman Turks, as they mark the centenary of the mass killings, in Yerevan, Armenia, April 24, 2015.

President Barack Obama released a statement on Armenian Remembrance Day Friday in which he commemorated the massacre of Armenians in 1915.

Obama said it was the first mass atrocity of the 20th century, but did not call it genocide.

The president thanked the people of Armenia for opening their arms to Syrian refugees, welcoming nearly 17,000 into their country.

One-and-a-half million Armenian people living in Turkey were deported, massacred, and marched to death under the Ottoman rule.

Turkey has recognized the mass killing of Armenians form 1915 to 1918, but denies the word “genocide” as an accurate term to describe the massacre and also has said the number is inflated.

U.S.-Armenian interest groups have said that the president should have taken a stronger stand on the issue.