Nearly 330,000 Syrians in Turkey have returned home since Turkey successfully completed counter-terror operations in northern Syria, Turkey’s interior minister said Sunday.
Speaking in Istanbul, Suleyman Soylu said, “329,000 people from Syria have returned so far thanks to the peace provided in Afrin and the area liberated by Operation Euphrates Shield.”
What Soylu didn’t say was whether they returned to their homes, or were allocated to areas from which other ethnic and/or religious groups were forcibly displaced.
Turkey currently hosts some 4 million Syrian refugees — more than any country in the world — but many have been returning to regions since stability and peace were established by Turkish counter-terrorist operations since 2016.
Over 41,000 Afghan migrants came to Turkey illegally this year and about half of them, some 20,500, were repatriated, added Soylu.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, including Al-Bab, Afrin and Azaz, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence there to return home.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed or displaced in the conflict, mainly by regime airstrikes targeting opposition-held areas.