According the CIA Fact Book, the population of Syria is approximately 17.2 million, down 736,000 from 2014. Syria was an important center of early Christianity. In fact, the Apostle Paul had his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus. It was in Antioch in Syria that the followers of Christ were first called Christians. Various Middle Eastern branches of Christianity are estimated to total 10 percent of the Syrian population, or 1.7 million people. This includes about 170,000 who are descendents of survivors of the Armenian genocides perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks from 1894 through 1923 that resulted in the massacre or systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenian Christians.
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