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"Kaç Kaç" incident (Turkish language: Kaç Kaç olayı, Flee Flee! incident,[1] Kaç literally means escape) is a popular phrase referring to the escape of Turkish people from Çukurova during the French occupation. Çukurova (Cilicia of antiquity) is a loosely defined region in south Turkey which covers most of the modern Turkish provinces of Mersin, Adana, Osmaniye and a part of Hatay.


The Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I. Vast territories of the empire in Arabic countries were annexed by the British and the French empires according to the Sykes–Picot Agreement. The war was ended by the Armistice of Mudros on 30 November 1918; however, even after the armistice, the allies continued their advance and the most prosperous territories of Turkey were allocated to Greece, Italy, France, and Armenia. Çukurova in South Turkey was one of the first territories in Turkey to be occupied by the allies. After the initial British landing in Mersin, on 17 December 1918, the whole of Çukurova was occupied by the British troops; from 1 January 1919, they were replaced by French troops.[2]

Çukurova under French rule

French empire which was also ruling Syria, settled 120 000 Armenians from Syria to Çukurova and the French army in Çukurova was supported by Armenian forces as well as a British Indian brigade.[3] But soon after the occupation, hostilities between the local population and the Franco-Armenian forces began. Although the French army could maintain control on the Mediterranean coast, controlling the mountainous area which covers the northern half of the French occupation zone was immensely more difficult. After the organized struggle of Turkish nationalists French army lost the control of the railroad from the Central Anatolia to Yenice and after the battle of Karboğazı on 28 May 1920 in which the last of French troops in Toros Mountains surrendered to Turks, the French policy was reshaped as to keep only the territory at the south of Mersin-Osmaniye railroad.

1920 July

In order to secure French presence at the south of the railroad, the Turkish population living at the south was forced to escape to north. On 10 July 1920, a Franco-Armenian operation was carried in the already French controlled city of Adana, against Turks. Most Turks escaped to villages and then to mountainous area.[4][5] During the escape French airplanes bombed the escaping population. Another problem of the escapers was the unavailability of drinking water in the hot summer weather. It is reported that infectious diseases also contributed to deaths of the escapers and in one case, the Belemedik hospital, the only hospital of the nationalists in the Toros Mountains was also bombed.[6] The mass escape continued for four days. But it was later on became widespread in all cities of Çukurova and was called kaç kaç .


On 20 October 1921 By the Treaty of Ankara French government agreed to return Çukurova to Turkey. On 3 January 1922 Mersin, on 5 January Adana and on 7 January Osmaniye were evacuated by the French army. (For Hatay see Hatay State )


  1. Robert Farrer Zeidner, The Tricolor over the Taurus: The French in Cilicia and Vicinity, 1918-1922, Atatürk Supreme Council for Culture, Language and History, 2005, ISBN 978-975-16-1767-5, p. 250.
  2. Online Mersin history (Turkish)
  3. Armenian history page
  4. Adana police office page (Turkish)
  5. ADD page (Turkish)
  6. Çukurova University page (Turkish)


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