Covering a surface area of 1,521 km2, Kilis is situated in Southeast Anatolia Region, the southwestern part of Gaziantep Plateau extending between Hatay-Maras graben and the river Euphrates, along Turkish - Syrian border between 360 N latitude and 320 E longitude. Owing to this location the city is located on the transition zone between the Mediterranean and Southeast regions.

There is no great differences in elevation in different parts of the region where average elevation is not much (680 meters). Wıth small exclusions, the region indicates a protected feature of the southern slope due to being surrounded by higher hills on the northwest, north and northeast.

Becoming a province in 1995, Kilis is surrounded by Turkish-Syrian border on the south and Gaziantep on the north, west and north-west.



Kilis region has Hatay-Maras on the west and is separated from them by Kurt Mountains in Islahiye Plateau. This mountainous belt from North to South direction near the Syrian border on the South extends in the northeast – northwest direction at the upper north and is bordered at the northwest.

The zone has an elevation of 1,250, starting from the southern tip "Mount Darmik", where Turkey-Syria border passes over to the north through Hazil, Karruca, Eagle, Great Arapdede and Sof Mountains. Sof Mountain is the highest point of the mass which constitutes a height of 1496 m. This mountainous site, whose northern parts are steeper, has a plateau-like view on the southern tip towards the Syrian border, with relative heights are 500 m on the Plateau of Gaziantep side, and 750 m on the Hatay-Maras graben side.

Serpentines mixed with sediments and basalts here and there make up the structure of this mountainous belt that constitutes the front part of the Southeast Taurus mountain chain. For example Darmik, Büyükikiz and Karlıca are basaltic conical mountains. The Arapdede Mountain further up is composed of Lutetian limestone. Formed of hard masses contrary to its environs, these areas make up the higher parts of Gaziantep Plateau.

Tectonic movements have a role in the formation of this mountainous area between Arabian blocks and Hatay-Maras graben bounded by east and west fault. It can be observed that the mass erodes the resistance-free formation near Belenözü village in the middle section of Afrin valley containing hanging valleys here and the western slopes of the region overlooking Hatay-Maras rift valley, creating recessed meanders dipping into the underlying hard cretaceous limestone. Thus, these mountains, although not as marked as Amanos Mountains, can be considered as horsts.

2 - Plateaus:

Consists of quite large lands other than Kilis Plain and some other small plains. These plateaus are divided into two in terms of their lithology and agricultural values:

a- Basalt plateaus: those plateaus cover the entire area outside Kilis plain at the east of the valley of Afrin and neighboring plains around Yavuzlu village and outside the confined space between Balık and Sinnep streams.

The large basalt plateau on the east side resembles roughly a rectangle extending towards north-south direction lying between Afrin creek on the west, Kilis plain on the south, Balık and Sinnep streams on the east and a small tributary stream of Afrin creek. Western slope of the plateau is quite steep cleaved deep by Afrin creek, while its east gradually descends towards to the southeast.

A wide area in the north of the plateau presents a slightly rugged and uniform topography consisting of shallow ponds during the winter season. However, the southern part of the plateau is split open deep by Sinnep stream’s east-west direction tributary and by Akpinar creek’s northwest-southeast direction tributary on Kilis plain.

b-Other Plateaus: They are found in various parts of the site in pieces. Covering most of the area between Afrin and Sabun waters, those plateaus are formed of slightly bumpy plains and emerged as former erosional surfaces since basalt cover upon it eroded away. Due to deepening of the valleys on plateaus with the help of tectonic movements a fragmented view is seen in some parts of plateaus.




Kilis plain is of tectonic origin. As mentioned earlier, it has formed with the accumulation of abraded material in this region as a result of the collapse of the southern part of the plateau through a fault.

Kilis plain has an area of approximately 100 to 110 km2 and an estimated height of 600-650m above sea level. Kilis plain, a large basalt plains east of the threshold of Elbeyli separated. Akpinar creek on the plain south - southeast direction extending in the same direction of debris flows consisted of a range. 950 -1000 m high basalt plateau in the north, east and south Sinnep the Syrian border, surrounded by water in the direction of the east-west length of 12-15km from the plain, the north-south base that 6-8 km. Its altitude is around 500m in the south-east Sinnep stream exceeds the limit is about 850 m from the north and northwest. Kilis plain of the northern plateau area extends more inclined plains of the skirt.


Kilis climate remains in the Mediterranean climate in terms of its general characteristics. Mediterranean climate zone, due to the location of the Mediterranean basin in general atmospheric circulation, is mostly tropical during the summer months. During the winter months, on the other hand, it is under the influence of different air masses such as polar air masses. Eteziyen air movement, being highly effective during summer and known since historical periods, gains some moisture while passing over the Mediterranean and cools down crossing the Amanos Mountains, which in turn causes cool-moisture in the province with low relative humidity and warm during that period and called "garbi".

Located at the intersection of Mediterranean climate (tropical) and continental climate, Kilis and the surrounding regions are dominated by the characteristics of these climate zones. This structure has different climatic features, one being warm and dry, the other being cool damp. The following is important in terms of the geographical factors causing some changes on the dynamic conditions that determine the main characteristics of the Kilis region. In terms of its location, the province of Kilis is located between the coastal Mediterranean Region and the Southeast Anatolian Region. The air masses that move from Mediterranean towards the east go beyond Mount Amanos and descend over the Hatay-Maras graben. Though less effectively, they ascend again over Mount Kurt and reach the lowlands of Kilis, after descending gradually . During these movements, the air masses lose their humidity and characteristics to some extent in proportion to the altitude of places they pass through and their distance to the sea as well.

The average difference between the warmest and coldest months of Kilis is around 32.6 degrees, with the difference on the Mediterranean coast stations being under 20 degrees. Although, the region is 60 – 80 kms away from the Mediterranean Sea as the crow flies, Kilis is less influenced by the sea, due to the relatively high mountain masses, the effect is not noticeable despite the small distance from the sea.


Kilis is located along the passage of Southeast Anatolian steppe vegetation and the Mediterranean maquis vegetation. Pastures and meadows, shrubs and wooded areas of non-agricultural land cover an area of 16%, 12% and 6%, respectively.

Covering an area of about 7,600 ha, forests and woods have concentrated on Mount Wolf, harem Hill, Afrin, Sabun Water, Deliçay regions. This region is covered with tree species such as the red pine (the most common tree species in the region), oak (Kermez oak, holm oak, gall oak, acorn oak), juniper, bead tree, gum tree, pistacia, phillyrea, sumac, almond, hawthorn, pear. Subforest vegetation is, on the other hand, consisted of the gorse, pure and mixed scrub formations.

A bush formation has developed on the hills starting from Mount Darmik at southwest of the region towards northeast all the way down to the middle of the valley of Afrin.

To the east of the valley of Afrin that is devoid of forestation, in some preserved sites located in the village there are the Kermez oaks. In places outside these areas, it is possible to find herbaceous species as well as some woody species such as monadic almonds, hawthorn and pear.

In Kilis province geography, "four" trees (two Sycamores, one pine in Belenözü (Ravanda) village and a sycamore in Haji İlyas neighborhood, Akcurun Street) were registered as "natural heritage".

Forested and mountainous areas of the region are rich in terms of wildlife and hunting, and species including wild boar, wolf, jackal, fox, rabbit, crow, mongoose, partridge (red-legged partridge, sand partridge), quail, turtle dove, duck, goose, snipe, rock pigeon, grouse inhabit in these areas.


Western part of the province of Kilis sends its water by means of Afrin stream and its tributaries to the Amik Plain river basins, and from there through the Orontes River Mediterranean Sea. The eastern part, however, empties its two small streams (considerable in terms of local extent) to Müftügölü closed basin the south of Aleppo. The largest river of the province in terms of basin and the water it carries The Afrin River is a tributary of the Orontes River in Turkey and Syria. It rises in the Kartal Mountains in Gaziantep Province, Turkey, flows south through the city of Afrin in Syria, then reenters Turkey. It joins the Karasu at the site of the former Lake Amik, and its waters now flow to the Orontes by a canal.[1] The total length of the river is 139 km, with 55 km running in Syria.

The second river of the region after the Afrin River is Sabun River. With 276 km waterbed, Sabun River is sourced from the Çataltepe west of Gaziantep plateau and runs in the north-south direction.





The Afrin Stream, which is the most important river in the area in terms of its basin size and the amount of water it absorbs, starts from Mount Külecik on the western side of Gaziantep plateau and runs southward. Then, the Bakırcan Stream starting from Mount Kartal from the western side and then Karadere River originating from Mount Sof from the eastern side become mixed and take the name of Karaafrin. Afrin Stream which splits its bed deeply up to this point takes the water from Mount Haremli in a large bed extending from Mount Haremli up to Goncadağ Hill and then from the plateau on the western side of the Afrin Stream leaves out borders, taking the Deliçay Brook from Mount Dümbüllü towards south and the Kınacık Brook from the east. As a result, it reaches approximately 70 km in length within our borders and takes the Sabun Stream, which is its most important branch, in 5 - 6 km after it leaves the border.



Sabun Stream, which is the second river of the field following Afşin Stream with a river basin of 276 km, originates from Çataltepe on the western side of Gaziantep plateau and flows in the north - south direction. It flows on a narrow and deep bed on its upper path and on a large bed in its central path. It establishes the border between Arab platform and orogenic flysch zone further south and extends along the southwest - northeast direction as from Mount Darmik. Afterwards, the crests reaching up to Afrin Stream split the stretch of brooks deeply and form a strait. Reaching the Syrian border by flowing into its less deep bed following this strait and completing a length of approximately 50 km, Sabun Stream is mixed into Afrin Stream just beyond the border.



The basalt plateau on the eastern side of Afrin Stream and Kilis plain send their water to Balık and Sinnep Stream and to Müftügölü closed basin on the southern side of Halep. Balık Stream raises from the north of plateau, feeds from resources and flows towards the southeast. The river which runs southward in its central path is approximately 45-50 km in length with a reception basin of 241,2 km2.



Sinnep Stream rises from the southern side of basalt plateau which is located on the northern side of Kilis plain. Once the three branches dividing the plateau towards the west-east direction and feeding from the resources are connected, it runs southward, forming the eastern border of Kilis plain and leaving the borders. Sinnep Stream with a length of nearly 30 km consists of a river basin of 127,7 km2.



In terms of its regime, the rivers in the region has the characteristics of the Mediterranean climate. In winter and spring months with higher precipitation and lower vaporization, the flow rates are high; on the contrary, these rates are lower during the summer and autumn, when vaporization is high and precipitation is low. In recent years, the use of rivers and resources in irrigation has caused rivers to be fully dry during the summer months.




CLICK to read the doctoral dissertation entitled "Economic and Social Life in Kilis in the 16th Century" (Prepared by: Metin AKIS).





a) Colonialism and Importance of the Region

Colonialism is defined as “the moral and material control, penetration or domination of a state over another state.” The colonialism in history was considered as a requirement of gaining large territory and becoming a great state.



At the beginning of 20th century, the oil fields owned by Iraq and its surroundings, as well as fertile soils of Çukurova and the strategic importance of Iskenderun harbor have increased the attention shown in these regions, and thus the imperialist states were involved in various conspiracies to seize these regions.



The Sykes-Picot Agreement was signed in order to share the Ottoman State's lands in the Middle East. In accordance with provisions of this agreement, provinces including Kilis, Antep, Maras and Urfa which have been left to France were invaded - to be turned into a matter of negotiation against France - by Britain, despite the mentioned secret agreement[1].



b) Mustafa Kemal's Arrival in Kilis and an Overview

I. Towards the end of the World War, the Thunderbolt Army Group was destroyed to a great extent at the Syrian Front[2], and following such defeats, the Ottoman armies withdrew to further north and on October 5, 1918, the 7th Headquarters was moved to Halep and then to Katma, a village which is at a distance of 20 km to Kilis, on October 26, 1918.



While the Turkish army was withdrawing from Syria, certain British and Arab clans in the region took an action against Turks, initiated terrorizing movements and killed six Ottoman soldiers [3].



Mustafa Kemal must have noticed the danger from the approaching Arab and British attacks, so he departed from Katma for Kilis on the evening of October 28, 1918 in order to find a space so that the entire army ammunition is withdrawn to the north.



As Mustafa Kemal approached to the city, he was very glad to see that the people of Kilis were organized and on an armed guard duty in order to protect their city from a possible attack[4]. Mustafa Kemal met with notable people of the city, learned the stock of supplies, munitions and morale of the people in Kilis[5] and promised that he would provide weapons and munitions for them. “I saw such an armed resistance organization at a Turkish town that I have visited for the first time. This situation gave hope to me. Long live the people of Kilis. You would not allow Arabs to prey upon you; Farewell,"[6] Pasha said and left Kilis.



After Mustafa Kemal has returned to the headquarters, he ordered that the entire ammunition in Katma is immediately moved to Kilis, but only some materials could have been saved due to the British bombardment.





a) British Invasion and Reactions

Immediately after the Armistice of Moudros, the allied powers started to invade the lands that they have shared beforehand. The British was planning to also invade Kilis, Birecik, Urfa, Maras and Antep in order to achieve their goals about Mosul[7].



The British initiated preliminary preparations to this end and arrived at Kilis along with some soldiers on December 13, 1918 for surveying purposes.



Following the preliminary work and survey which has been carried out, a British squadron consisting of Indian Muslims invaded Kilis in mid-December in 1918[8].



During the days of invasion, the British have tried to intimidate and demoralize people under various pretexts also because of Armenian provocations.



A memorandum stating that the people of Kilis consider and will always consider remaining merely as Turkish and Ottoman land and a part of Anatolia as the only legitimate solution has been submitted by the people from Kilis who lived in Istanbul as the deputy of the people of Kilis[9] to the Higher Commissioners of the Ottoman government and the allied forces in Istanbul.



b) Passive Resistance Movements during the British Invasion

As the Dispatchment and Settlement Law was enacted and the Armenians, who have previously lived in Kilis and forced to move to various Ottoman territories, mostly Syria, and then returned to Kilis, got spoiled and attempted at imposing pressures and mischief against the Muslim people[10], an organization called the Society of Islam, led by the notable people of Kilis, was established in early 1919.[11]



There were some resistance movements during the British invasion in Kilis. Nevertheless, we see that such efforts were passive resistance movements. This situation was not merely peculiar to Kilis. During that period, there were some uncertainty and occasionally irregular resistance movements with regard to National Struggle throughout the country. Kilis has gone through the same period as well.





As required by the agreement which was signed on September 15, 1919, people of Kilis learned that Kilis would be handed over to the French, and thus began to worry to a great extent.[12]. The people's fears came true and France invaded Kilis along with a battalion also consisting of Armenians on October 29, 1919. French soldiers also suddenly attacked the induction station and burned all of the documents and books[13].



The notable people have held a huge public demonstration in order to refuse the French invasion and protest the incident. The public demonstration which was held at the Tekke Mosque courtyard following the noon prayer at 29.10.1919 was allegedly attended by ten thousand people[14].



As for another activity aimed at protesting the invasion, a document was prepared with the signature of "Kilis Mayor Osman Fazlı on behalf of the District Delegation” and telegraphed to the Anatolian and Rumelian Representation of the Delegation for Defense of National Rights in Sivas on 29.10.1919. The telegraph was protesting the French invasion, stating that the people of Kilis want to live independently and freely forever and remain as Turks.



Mustafa Kemal supported Kilis people's willingness and demands to live independently on behalf of the Delegation Committee and sent a response to the telegraph, showing that he is next tot the people of Kilis[15].



During the days of invasion, French soldiers have treated the people cruelly, attacked them at countryside, seized their guns and imprisoned some of them [16].



As the French were disturbed by activities of the Association for Education Volunteers which was established during the period of British invasion, the association started to be kept under supervision. As a way out, people of Kilis decided to establish an association called the "Association for Farmers" and pretended that it was a professional association for those who are engaged in agriculture[17].



 Armenians were provoking the French. Thus, the veiled women were disturbed and attacked many times by French soldiers. As a result of these incidents, people were agitated and the French apologized to prevent harsher incidents in the future, because they knew that they were the guilty ones[18].



a) Inhumane Declaration Issued by the French against People of Kilis

After the incidents passed off, notable people of Kilis took action, and thus the situation was protested before the Commander of French Occupation Forces and it was stated that any responsibility wold be refused, if such incidents reoccurred. On the other hand, French Commander Gen. Quérette was involved in such activities which are proper only for wild nations by preparing a declaration and asking the District Governor's Office to place them at crowded places of the city[19]. The following was written in the declaration:

Anybody who is found with a revolver (gun) will be executed by shooting without even asking why he carries that,

Two randomly-chosen local men will be executed by shooting in return for a dead or injured French soldier, in case an unrest occurs,

In case a gun is fired from a house, that house will be destroyed,

In such a case, the administrative and governance authority of the Ottoman government officials will be taken from their hands and the streets wll be covered with fire with the mitrailleuse (machine gun), bombs and gas bullets[20].



Upon the declaration, Kilis City Council sent a protest telegraph to various gathering places.[21].



Anatolian Women's Society for the Defense of Nation has requested that the government stops such wild actions[22].



When Mustafa Kemal learned about the attitude which was deemed proper by the French against the people living in Kilis, he sent a telegraph to Erzurum Association for the Defense of National Rights and advised that this violence is protested by all of the Central Delegations.[23]



b) Establishment of the National Forces against French Invasion

Following the decisions which were made at the Sivas Congress with regard to the Southern Front, resistance organizations in Kilis were reorganized in accordance with decisions of the Delegation of Representatives, established the Association for the Defense of National Rights and started to work under that roof[24].



For the French, the strategic importance of Kilis was vital. The French have chosen and used Kilis as the operation base of the invasion area of Cilicia. They have administered all of their movements, including attack and defense, from that point [25]. As a result of such strategic importance of Kilis, the French moved their army center there early 1920 and brought the majority of their soldiers from Adana to Kilis and initiated armoring[26].



c) Activities in the Western Front of Kilis

The forces of Sakip Bey and Ahmet Ruto have destroyed the French outpost at the station building; some of the French have been killed and approximately 35 Algerian French soldiers working for the outpost have been captured[27].



Polat Bey was appointed to the Kilis Front by the National Forces, and he initiated the work on the organizational structure to be made on National Forces[28].



d) Battle of Mount Darmık (Hisar) and the Death of Sakip Bey

After the French has withdrawn from Maras, they wanted to go back to Maras on the pretext of helping the Armenians[29] and thus the National Forces of Kilis Kuva-yi Milliyesi did not remain idle, but laid siege to the bridge from three sides on March 24, 1920 in order to deactivate the railway used by the French in the region. As a result of the running fire, a French officer working for the outpost was killed and 40 French soldiers were captured. Furthermore, the bridge was destroyed and made irreparable[30].



One day after this incident, a reinforced French battalion of 600 persons have departed for western Kilis to reach Maras in line with their plans of going back to Maras. This branch has confronted the National Forces of Kilis on March 26, 1920. Havali Commander Polat Bey has made the necessary plans and appointed Islâm Bey and his friends to this post. Taking over the general command of a 100-person force at Beğobası, Islâm Bey has spread his gangs on a hill which was located on the way of the enemies. He has also placed Sakip Bey in front of the force. As a result of the battle which started at the sunrise and ended towards the afternoon, Sakip Bey has fallen a martyr[31]. None of the French soldiers from the reinforced French battalion of 600 persons could have been saved. Moreover, ten persons from the National Forces have fallen martyrs.[32].



e) Battles of Kilis–Antep Road and the Death of Şahin Bey:

Şahin Bey has made the most tremendous efforts in the process of the foundation of Kilis National Forces. He has been appointed by the Antep Central Delegation as "Commander of Kilis National Forces"[33].



Although Şahin Bey has been appointed by the Antep Central Delegation, considering then administrative borders of Kilis, the majority of militia who have been collected by him for fighting purposes were composed of volunteers from the villages of Kilis.



The French have learned about the fact that Şahin Bey came back to the region and started to organize people, who have taken up arms and participated in the gang movements, and also realized the preparation work which has been conducted secretly within the city, and thus have issued various declarations in order to threaten and intimidate the public[34].



The Kilis-Antep road was the most important one both for the French and National Forces. Because all of the material, food and ammunition needs of the French forces in Antep, as well as their reinforcing units have been dispatched and transferred from that road[35].



Şahin Bey has initiated necessary preparations in order to ensure that the Katma-Kilis-Antep road which was used by the French to deliver food and ammunition to their units in Antep is secured and to prevent the French from using this road. Şahin Bey, who has been in constant communication with Kilis National Forces, established three defense lines on the Kilis-Antep road:



Northern hills of Kızılburun, Kertil, Elmalı and Bostancık villages[36].



Trenches have been dug in these defense lines by order of Şahin Bey and the armed platoons started to keep guard



When Şahin Bey learned about the fact that a supply branch of 150 vehicles which were about to depart in order to send food to the French garrison in Antep was getting ready in Kilis, Şahin Bey made the necessary preparation, ambushed the French in Kertil on February 3, 1920 and obliged them to go back to Kilis[37].



The French have tried to pass by that road again on February 18, 1920, but they were ambushed by Şahin Bey and obliged to go back again.



In the report submitted by Kilis Association for the Defense of National Rights Commander Polat Bey to Şahin Bey and Antep Association for the Defense of National Rights on March 24, 1920, it was stated that approximately 6,000 French forces have arrived in Kilis from Katma and that they would depart for Antep in a few days. [38]



After receiving the report, the Central Delegation of Antep started to send reinforcements to Şahin Bey and also informed Chairman of the Delegation of Representatives Mustafa Kemal Heyeti on the situation by a telegraph on March 25, 1920 and requested his help.[39]



In the morning of March 26, 1920, the French forces consisting of 2,500 people, 1,400 animals, tanks and armored automobiles started to march towards Antep from Kilis.



Şahin Bey's forces did not have any automatic rifles. They had the Ottoman, German, British and Russian rifles in a mixed way. The ammunition was low and the lack of rifles was making the ammunition supply difficult. Although the enemy which was superior in terms of number and all sorts of weapons has faced dispersed forces from the villages who have not been disciplined or provided with any instruction and education, our gangs were harshly resisting the enemy. Our right wing has started to dissolve towards 15.00. When Şahin Bey saw that the trenches were getting empty, he helplessly tried and worked hard to stop those who withdraw, but he could not have persuaded anybody. The militia was carrying their dead and injured people and slipping away on the pretext of an injured or martyr[40].



Although his close friend suggested Şahin Bey that he withdraws, he did not withdraw and resisted on the Elmalı Bridge until he has shot his last bullet. Despite the fact that all of the national forces and his friends who have been next to him withdrew, Şahin Bey remained alone on the Elmalı Bridge and he finally fell a martyr with bayonets on March 28, 1920. After he has fallen a martyr, the national forces could not remain at the further back side and thus they were obliged to withdraw to northern Antep. The French forces reached Antep in the evening of March 28, 1920[41]. The Military Officers were informed on this uphill battle in the region by Selahattin Bey with a report dated 31.3.1336 [42].



In this three days of war, probably 100 people have fallen martyrs with a few folds of injured persons. As for the enemy's loss, four dead persons, including two officers, and 25 injured persons, including one officer[43].



f) Kilis-Antep Solidarity in the National Struggle:



The French unit consisting of 400 infantrymen, two artilleries and approximately 100 cavalrymen departed from Kilis for Antep on May 9, 1920, and Polat Bey, who has been informed on the situation, started the preparations immediately[44].



The enemy has been worried and scared and unable to reach Antep in three days, and the French forces who have been pushed by Kilis National Forces on one side and Antep National Forces on the other side spent the night on the hills of Ulumesere-Akbaba and failed to go further and thus had to go back to Kilis[45].



The French who have failed on May 11-12 and had to go back, decided to take action at all costs again in order to deliver supply and ammunition to their units who were in a difficult situation in Antep. Kilis has increased the number of its guardsmen to 600 along with its Armenians. Polat Bey has also started the necessary preparation, and the enemy's movements have been taken under strict control with the reconnaissance teams[46].



In order to fulfill above-mentioned goals, the French departed from Kilis for Antep on May 20, 1920[47].



The French forces were regular, well-armed, trained and well-kept. On the contrary, the situation of national forces was too weak to be compared with them in terms of both their weapons and training.



The French forces were divided into two branches, and the first branch collided with national forces at the surroundings of Almalı Bridge for about six hours, but it succeeded in reaching the Kurbanbaba hills as late as May 24.



Another branch of the French which has continued its march towards the Geneyik Village was ambushed by Polat Bey's forces, which have reached there beforehand. Our forces consisting of 200 infantrymen and 80 cavalrymen have ambushed the enemy and caused the death of approximately 200 people.



The enormous success achieved by Polat Bey in these battles is praiseworthy. In the correspondence with Polat Bey who has been in constant communication with Antep National Forces, his help has been requested and it was also demanded that the enemy forces would continue to be beaten up behind and that they remain available at the Dülük Baba hills. Thus, Polat Bey has provided full support, Kilis National Forces and the French have opened fire at each other at Sarımsaktepe and the national forces have faced heavy bombardment from the enemy. Although the Central Delegation of Antep has invited Polat Bey who was in the surroundings of Antep, Polat Bey was unable to participate due to some reasons[48]. The fact that Kilis National Forces have followed the enemy up to the edge of Antep and annoyed them in the back is one of the best examples of Kilis-Antep solidarity.



The success of this important struggle has had repercussions in Ankara and become a current issue at the closed session of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA) on May 29, 1920. In his speech, Ismet Bey says that Antep is in a difficult situation and talks about the battles around Antep and especially a new war occurring on the south and the victory which was achieved[49]. Considering what Ismet Bey says, it could be concluded that he was talking about the battles of May 21-22 which were happening at the same time on the south, as well as the success achieved by battalions under the command of Polat Bey in Geneyik.



g) Outbursts of the French in Downtown and People's Reactions

Towards the end of May 1920, approximately 600 French soldiers within the city[50] got drunk, seized shop owners' products at the market, ripped up women's veils, yelled and sang songs, and also randomly opened fire to people in the middle of the market. As a result of the fire opened by them, retired Major Salih Bey, Mustafa Hannavi zade Mehmet and Çakmakçı zade Abdülaziz Efendi and Küspeci zade Ahmet Ağa were shot and injured. The people of Kilis have seen the situation, closed their shops, protested the incident, and thus a tense process of waiting started in the town.



h) Temporary Ceasefire with the French and the Situation in Kilis

The efforts aimed at forcing the French to make an agreement have been initiated and the French have agreed to hold a meeting aimed at ceasefire.



According to the ceasefire, conflicts with the French would be ended due to the operation as from the midnight on May 29/30. The ceasefire was supposed to continue for 20 days.



Meanwhile, the ceasefire conditions which have been particularly put forth Kilis National Forces were rejected by the French. As Irfan Bey from the Antep National Forces has come to Kilis in order to negotiate the ceasefire conditions and also visited his French friend Ahmet Bey at his house, Commander of Kilis National Forces Ahmet Bey got sad, and thus sent a telegraph to Mustafa Kemal and requested that his duty at the Kilis region is changed[51]. Afterwards, Polat Bey was appointed to Maras[52].



i) Activities in Kilis and its Districts Following the Temporary Ceasefire

The fact that 60,000 lira out of 130,000 lira at the Kilis Public Debt Administration were put in three sacks on July 18, 1920 and delivered to Antep National Forces with great difficulties is another example of Kilis-Antep Solidarity during the National Struggle is



It would not be exaggerative to argue to that the money snatched from Kilis has saved the people of Antep from hunger at least for a while during those sad days in which Antep was trying to survive and people who were at the hunger threshold were crying out, 'we are hungry, we are hungry.'



Following the twenty-day ceasefire, the French have not remained idle, but invaded Mount Resul Otman, namely, the most strategic hill of the city, with their artilleries and infantrymen forces[53].



On the other hand, who have stood out against all of those difficulties and taken place at the struggle lines? As Polat Bey has explained, “Those who have served the National Forces were mostly composed of the poor and unlucky ones of low degrees.” In other words, the poor and needy people were giving them a helping hand. Again, as he stated, they were not from the “wealthy class. I know that almost all of them had a tendency towards the French and they were opposed to the National Movement as much as they could.” As a result, Polat Bey sent a cryptography to Adana Front Command on 17.09.1920, suggesting that the poor people who have supported the struggle is presented a medal for their heroism[54] and thus showed his appreciative character.





Polat Bey's Initiatives and the Kefergani Meeting

We see that Polat Bey has always been willing to be in cooperation with Arabs since he was appointed to the region as the National Struggle Commander.



The most important reason behind the unwillingness of Kilis National Forces to cooperate with the Arabs was that the pressure on Kilis and Antep could have been relieved by hitting the enemy there as well[55].



Kilis National Forces and Arabs have met at the Kefergani Village of Kilis and agreed on continuing the struggle altogether[56].



We see that Polat Bey's agreement with Arabs at Kefergani has failed when Halep was seized by the French. But the most important benefit of this rapprochement was that the "Southern Raider Branches" were established by the Kilis National Forces Command on the basis of this agreement. In other words:



After major Syrian cities have been invaded by the French, Ibrahim Henânu, one of the rebelling leaders of Syria, and his friends established contact with Turkey, met with the 2nd Corps Commander Selahattin Adil in Maras and made an agreement on September 7, 1920. According to the agreement, Turkey would provide them with arms and ammunition and cooperation would be made on the border. Following the agreement, Turkey, has sent a unit equipped with machine guns and at least one artillery to Ibrahim Henânu[57]. The above-mentioned unit must be the "Southern Raider Branches" which were established by the National Struggle Command.





There were a great many reasons forcing the French government to make an agreement. But we will not touch upon this.



Mustafa Kemal has personally conducted the peace talks. Mustafa Kemal was insistent on the idea of complete independence and put forth his conditions, saying, “complete independence obviously refers to having complete independence and freedom in every field such as political, financial, economic, legal, military and cultural fields, etc.”[58]



France made an agreement with the TGNA government on October 20, 1921 and finally ended its adventure in Anatolia, though it was late[59].



Following the Ankara Agreement, the French slowly started to slowly remove its oppression from Kilis. The French flags which have been raised at government offices were removed on November 22, 1921. Seeing that the French flags were removed, shopkeepers wholly decorated their shops with Turkish flags. There was enormous rejoice in Kilis[60].



As a result of the meetings held, it was decided to deliver Kilis on Wednesday, December 7, 1921. On December 7, 1921, the Kilis Battalion entered Kilis from the hills where the Teacher's Training School is currently located. Each office was received by the persons who have been appointed by the District Governor of Kilis. Since that day, the administration of Kilis people has been under the control of national government officials[61].



The Importance of Ankara Agreement for the People of Kilis and the Work on Border Arrangement in Kilis and its Districts

After the agreement has been accepted by delegations, the issue was raised at the TGNA, where intensive discussions were held on Article 8 with regard to setting the southern border. The Parliament members were critical about the fact that the borders were drawn incorrectly, they would cause grave economic issues, the railways would lead to huge problems and the Turkish people who have remained on the east would be facing tremendous dangers[62].



Obviously, Kilis and its districts were one of the regions which were mostly related with the inconveniences mentioned by Parliament members with regard to borders. As Kilis has been left with broken arms due to the Ankara Agreement and the borderline has been slightly touching the last building as required by following provision of the Ankara Agreement: "City of Kilis to be left to Turkey",[63] the most fertile lands owned by Kilis, as well as sub-districts of Kilis such as Fellah, Amiki, Şakağı, Com, Okçuizzettin and Şeyhler, approximately 400 villages which were attached to them and a population of nearly 30,000 people who lived there were left in the Syrian territory. Besides, almost two-third of the people's sources of income such as vineyards, gardens and olive groves were left in the south. This situation has made its presence felt in the economic field in a short period of time. Due to severity of the situation, on the one hand people have notified the higher ranks on the situation by telegraphs, and on the other hand initiatives have been made before the Commission of Border Limits located in Hassa, but significant results could not have been yielded [64]. Ankara was also informed on the situation and the Council of Ministers failed to find a solution in February 1922[65].



In order to relieve the unjustly treated people in Kilis, the issue was submitted again to the Council of Ministers in Ankara in July 1922. The result was again the same: The border determined by Commissions of Border Limits was essentially accepted and the vineyards, gardens and olive groves of Kilis also remained within Syrian territories[66].





a) Hopes Set on Lausanne for the Losses of Kilis and Beyond:

The delegation which has visited Lausanne and Parliament members and the Delegation of Deputies have demanded Ismet Pasha and his delegation that the Syrian border is withdrawn to south[67], but the Turkish delegation's efforts in Lausanne failed and Article 8 of the Ankara Agreement was accepted as the Turkish-Syrian border in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne[68].



As a result of a slight effort to adjust the border in 1926, it was decided that Çobanbey Village is left within Syria and 12 Turkish villages are handed over to Turkey. Nevertheless, most of the lands of these villages have remained on the Syrian side. The border has gained its current status in accordance with an adjustment which was made again in 1929[69].



Besides the problem of leaving the lands on the Syrian side, there were also other problems involving the Turkish people who have remained within the Syrian territory. Health issues were the most important ones among those problems. There was a dense population at places near the border and in the region extending up to Aleppo. They were unable to travel to Turkey to receive medical treatment. They were trying to benefit from American hospitals in the region. Although the Health Ministry has proposed the Council of Ministers to ensure that the people could benefit from health possibilities in Turkey and establish a regional hospital in Kilis which is located near the border for this purpose, the Council did not approve it[70].



Ismail Habip SEVÜK wrote his memories about Kilis for the Cumhuriyet daily on April 1, 1936 and described the desperate situation of that time. In order to clarify the issue, I quote the following phrase from the book written by Çolakoğlu:



“That cottage and that building on the hills are the border posts located on outskirts of this huge town with a population of 25,000 and most of its territory has been left beyond the border. The town itself belongs to us, but not its essence. On the contrary, they own the territory, but we own the land. They have taken the fertile soil, and we have been told to get the product. People go to their fields every morning and go back home in the evening. Work outside the country during the day and sleep inside the country during the night. The people of Kilis are entitled to benefit from the lands, but they cannot sell their lands. The lands are not attached to their owners, but owners are attached to their lands.”[71]



b) The Fight for Political Interests during the New Period:

The warriors who have participated in the struggle as part of Kilis National Forces or Association for the Defense of National Rights, worked endlessly to ensure the end of enemy invasion in each city, village and town and stood out against a great many shortages were now able to speak in each field in the city and particularly in the field of administration, after Kilis was saved from the French invasion It was like they were responsible for Kilis. While the French invasion was underway, some warriors were putting everybody who have left the city for a reason or not in the same equation, labeling them as people who are in favor of the French and considering them as betrayers. According to them, they have gained all of the achievements from the National Struggle. So it was their right to enjoy the city as much as they could and they claimed that they deserved all sorts of awards.



There were also some warriors who were moderate. They said that everybody has made some contributions to end enemy invasion in the country in an effort to try to prevent the spread of the seeds of evil among people.



At the beginning of the struggle when the gangs took action and conflicts with the French started, people living in the city were unable to understand what was going on. Some people showed up and asked us to follow them, but who were they, bandits or patriots? Obviously, time was required to clarify the situation for the people and convince them too. This was achieved during the upcoming days and months; as mentioned above, a great many people have joined the warriors as a result of the meetings held by Commander of Kilis National Forces Polat Bey in Kefergani[72].



Unfortunately, such disagreements which have occurred among the warriors during the Republican period were spread to people as well and the extremists dominated and the people were divided into two groups. As some of the warriors have started to consider one another as an enemy and opponent, social peace in the city was destroyed to a great extent[73]. The struggle between participants and non-participants of the National Struggle in Kilis was uncovered during the elections of the “Fraternal Organization of Reserve Officers" and "Association of Teachers" and those who have actually participated in the National Struggle were left outside during the two elections.



In the next periods, the party assembly chaired by Islam Bey was dismissed by the Republican People's Party (CHP) and he was replaced by Muhtar Yavaşça from the notables. Islam Bey who has been made ineffective prior to the elections in 1925 was replaced by Muhtar Yavaşça who became the mayor as a result of elections. In other words, participants of the National Struggle became opposition in the two incidents. The struggle continued and Islam Bey was elected mayor again in 1927. In early 1930’s, Islam Bey was discharged as a result of an operation conducted by Kılıç Ali Bey, and thus he has failed to regain his power.



It seems that those who have actually participated in the National Struggle faced such a treatment because of their snob stance towards the public following the end of invasion. But it should be remembered that there were also some rumors consisting of many accusations against some intellectuals who have not participated in the National Struggle. Moreover, participants of the Struggle were mostly offended by this.



Participants of the struggle argued that they were men of the people, notables and landowners did not serve for the National Struggle, the craftsmen and people from lower ranks of the society were despised by them; and thus they cannot have a say in the political field.



The fight between brothers in Kilis continued for many years and the atmosphere calmed down slowly in the 1930’s[74].



In addition to the above-mentioned fight for benefits, as Kilis started to be controlled by the government in Ankara and the new administration set up its staff, many government officials who have previously worked for government agencies during the period of temporary government were dismissed. As voices were raised, the children of rich families were returned to their official duties, but everybody ignored the poor ones and thus they were left outside and made to suffer. This situation has played an important role in the process of deterioration of social peace[75].



c) Administrative Structure during the Republican Period:



In 1940’s, 16 villages from the Musabeyli town of Kilis were attached to Burç town of Gaziantep province. When Oğuzeli was turned into a district in 1950's, Elbeyli town was also attached there and 42 villages of Kilis were detached from Kilis[76].



Kilis was a district of Gaziantep province, and it was converted into a separate province as per the Decree Law No. 550 published in the Official Gazette of 06.06.1995, becoming the 79th province in Turkey. When Kilis was a district, Musabeyli and Polateli which were towns at that time were given the status of a district and attached to Kilis province. Elbeyli town which was a district of Gaziantep province and attached to Oğuzeli was then detached from this district and turned into a district to be attached to Kilis province as well.



In Kilis province which covers an area of 1521 km2 the city center has a population of 80,542 people along with a population of 122,104 in its districts, towns and villages in accordance with the Address-based Population Registration System 2009. In terms of its administrative structure in 2010, it consists of four districts, one town and 138 villages, including the central district[77].

Compiled by: Okt. Halil Ibrahim INCE

(Lecturer at the Department of Revolution History at Kilis 7 December University)





[1] Türk Istiklal Harbi (TIH) I, Mondros Mütarekesi ve Tatbikatı, ATASE Publications, Ankara 1999, p. 105.

[2] Kazım Karabekir, Istiklal Harbimiz, Extended New Edition, Yüce Publications, Istanbul 1990, p. 1.

[3] ATASE, ISH, Box: 67, Shirt: 76, Document No: 76-1.

[4] IPEKÇIOĞLU, Sacit, Kilis’te Millî Mücadele ve Gerilla, Kilis Cultural Association Publications, Ankara 1986, p. 13.

[5] SOLMAZ, Mehmet, Atatürk Kilis’te, Gaziantep Cultural Association Publications, Gaziantep 1968, p. 35-37.

[6] DEMIRBAŞ, Hasan Kamil, “Ana Hatlarıyla Kilis Mücadelesi”, Mersin Kuvay-i Milliye Dergisi, V. 15, June, 1959, p. 15 ; TIH, IV, p. 48.

[7] TIH, I, p. 105.

[8] TIH, IV, p. 48

[9] Mustafa Budak, “Mütareke Döneminde Bir Aydın-Halk Işbirliği: Kilis’in Türklüğü Osmanlı hükümeti’ne Bağlılığı Hakkında Bir Muhtıra”, Ilmi Araştırmalar Dergisi, V. 9, separate edition from Istanbul 2000, p. 70-75.

[10] For more information see. Yusuf Halaçoğlu, Ermeni Tehciri ve Gerçekler (1914-1918), TTK Publications, Ankara 2001.

[11] TIH, IV, p. 79.

[12] KILISLI KADRI, Kilis Tarihi, Burhaneddin Publishing House, Istanbul 1932, p. 33.

[13] Demirbaş, ibid, V. 18, September 1959, p. 10.

[14] Archive of the General Staff Military History and Strategic Studies (ATASE) War of Independence Collection (ISH), Box: 270, Case: 38, Document No: 38-2.

[15] ATASE, ISH, Box: 270, Case: 38, Document No: 38-1

[16] ATASE, ISH, Box: 55, Case: 47, Document No: 47-1

[17] Demirbaş, ibid, V. 18, September 1959, p. 11. Hasan Kamil Demirbaş has listed the names of association members Mesut Remzi, Agriculturalist Halit, Sorbet Seller Durmuş, Blind Rasih, Hacı Muhammed Oğulları Galip ve Sadullah, Abdullah, Tevfik and Kavlak and the Tall Guy and described them as those who have cooperated with the French. See the same.

[18] Ahmet Rami, Hatıralar; Demirbaş, ibid, V. 19, October 1959, p. 6.

[19] Ahmet Rami, Hatıralar; Demirbaş, ibid, V. 19, October 1959, p. 6; Ipekçioğlu, ibid, p. 19-20.

[20] ATASE, ISH, Box: 104, Case: 11, Document No: 11(1-2); This declaration is also covered by following documents: ATASE, ISH, Box: 109, Case: 128, Document No: 128(1-2)

[21] ATASE, ISH, Box: 347, Case: 156, Document No: 156-1.

[22] Leyla Kaplan, Cemiyetlerde ve Siyasi Teşkilâtlarda Türk Kadını (1908-1960), Atatürk Research Center Publications, Ankara 1998, p. 96.

[23] Atatürk’ün Tamim, Telgraf ve Beyannameleri, V. IV, Ankara 1991, p. 154.

[24] TIH, IV, p. 79.







Central and District / Village Population by Districts (2012 )



According to initial results of the Address-based Population Registration System application which was conducted in 2012, our province has a total population of 124,320 people with a population density of 87/km2. In our province, the distribution of population in terms of settlements is as follows:







Primary and Secondary Education

There are totally 134 schools on the primary and secondary educational level in our province during the academic year of 2011-2012, where educational services including pre-school education are provided for 30,450 students by 1,380 teachers in 1,172 classrooms.



The city center encompasses 12 high schools, namely, one regular high school, three Anatolian high schools, one Anatolian teacher training high school, one technical and vocational high school for girls, one Anatolian vocational high school of tourism, one technical and industrial vocational high school, one trade vocational high school, one religious vocational high school, one health high school and one science high school.



Elbeyli district consists of one kindergarten, eight primary schools, six nurseries and one multi-programmed high school.



Musabeyli district covers one kindergarten, 33 primary schools, one primary school with 25 combined classrooms, one local primary boarding school, five village primary schools and one multi-programmed high school.



There are a total of 13 primary schools -11 in villages and two in the center- one primary school with 10 combined classrooms and one multi-programmed high school in Polateli district.



Our district encompasses one public training center, one vocational training center, one guidance and research center, one teacher's lodge, four private dormitories -two for secondary education and two for higher education-, seven motor vehicle driving courses, four private teaching institutions and one Scout-craft Council Presidency.

As part of the mobile education application, there are 145 mobile units and a total of 2,452 students have moved to 16 mobile centers.



Higher Education

In our province, Kilis 7 December University which was established on May 28, 2007 in accordance with "Law on the Organization of Institutions of Higher Education numbered" 5662 and "Legislative Decree on the Teaching Staff at Institutions of Higher Education Institutions" and "Law on Amending the Schedules Attached to the Legislative Decree on Staff and Procedures" encompasses a total of four faculties, namely, Kilis Muâllim Rıfat Education Faculty, Faculty of Science and Letters, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences and Faculty of Engineering and Architecture; two institutions -Institute of Social Sciences and Institute of Science- and four higher education schools. According to figures of December 2010, a total of 191 lecturers teach 4,887 students at Kilis 7 December University.



In order to meet the accommodation needs of higher education students, a dormitory of the General Directorate of Higher Education Credit and Hostels Institution with a capacity of 301 students (69 men and 232 women) is available in two blocks.




For our Provincial Center;

Transportation is provided by jitneys in the central province. You can reach everywhere in the city thanks to the jitneys serving every ten minutes.

From the Airport;

The plane lands on the Gaziantep-Oğuzeli Airport. After landing at the airport, go to the Gaziantep bus station. You can travel to Kilis with Çayırağası Turizm Travel Company that provides bus services between Gaziantep and Kilis. The distance between Gaziantep and Kilis is 60 km and the journey lasts for approximately 40 minutes.

By Bus;

If you fail to find a vehicle directly traveling to Kilis from your departure point, you will have a stopover in Gaziantep. You can travel to Kilis with the Çayırağası Turizm Travel Company that provides bus services between Gaziantep and Kilis. This company's buses depart from Gaziantep at 08.00, 13.00 and 17.00.

By Car;

There are two alternatives for those who travel to Kilis by car. Firstly, the newly built Gaziantep-Kilis highway that follows the Gaziantep_Oğuzeli Airport... Secondly, the old Kilis road that passes by Gaziantep University...

By Train;

There is no direct railway to Kilis. But you can travel to Gaziantep by train and then complete the remaining road by bus.