YEREVAN -- Commemoration ceremonies were held in Armenia on April 24 to mark the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 102 years ago.
In the capital, Yerevan, hundreds of thousands of people marched to the Tsitsernakaberd hilltop memorial to lay flowers at the eternal flame at the center of a monument commemorating the victims of what Armenia calls the genocide..
Armenians from other countries also joined the march that is held annually on April 24.
President Serzh Sarkisian issued a statement calling the ceremony "a march of the resurrected nation that remembers what it left behind and looks to the future with confidence."
Late on April 23, the nationalist Dashnaktsutiun party publicly burned a Turkish flag and marched with torches across Yerevan.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million people were killed during World War I as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, a claim supported by many other countries.
The World War I-era mass slaughter and deportation of up to 1.5 million people is considered by Armenia and several other countries to have been genocide.
Turkey rejects this, however, saying that Armenians died in much smaller numbers and because of civil strife rather than a planned Ottoman government effort to annihilate the Christian minority.
U.S. President Donald Trump on April 24 issued a statement expressing sympathy for the suffering of innocent Armenian victims. But he stopped short of using the word "genocide."
Trump described the events that began "in the final years of the Ottoman Empire" as "one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century."
He stated that "beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths."
Trump also said that as the world reflects on "this dark chapter of human history... we must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again."
He said the United States welcomes "the efforts of Turks and Armenians to acknowledge and reckon with painful history, which is a critical step toward building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future."