Syrians in Turkey wish to return home, says justice minister
Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül on Monday said Syrian refugees in Turkey numbering over 3 million, want to return home as the Turkish army has provided security in the region through its cross-border operation northern Syria, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“As Syria becomes more safe with [Turkey’s military] operations [such as] Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, our guests want to go back to their homeland,” Gül said.
Gül’s comments arrive as the United Nations has announced up to 2.5 million displaced Syrians in the northwest Syrian province of Idlib could be forced towards the Turkish border with nowhere to go.
Turkey's Operation Olive Branch was launched on Jan. 20 into northern Syria’s Kurdish enclave of Afrin in an effort to ensure security and stability against Kurdish militants, namely the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), on Turkey’s borders and in the region. The operation has since expanded into neighboring Iraq, another stronghold for Kurdish militants.
“They thank Turkey,” Gül added in reference to Turkey’s Syrian refugee population which has been arriving in the country since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
Nearly 39,000 Syrians have returned to their homes, especially in Azaz, Afrin, Jarabulus, and al-Bab, which were secured by Turkey’s military operations, the agency said, citing an official at the migration department in Turkey.
Around 76,000 Syrians had applied online to Turkish authorities to spend their Eid al-Fitr holiday, a three-day festival which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in Syria.