Turkey’s “Turkey” newspaper has unveiled initiatives by the AKP government to repatriate more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees within 5 to 20 months.
The newspaper, which is close to the Turkish government, referred to “the movement to build residential complexes in areas covered by the Euphrates Shield, Peace Spring and Olive Branch operations.” The project, which will receive Qatari funding, coincides with intelligence-level talks with the Syrian regime concerning the issues of refugees and “terrorist” organizations.
Ankara wants Damascus to support a military operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from the north and east axes of Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, and Manbij. In exchange, Damascus will control the areas’ oil and gas reserves, according to Yilmaz Bilgen, the article’s author.
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According to Bilgen, Turkey has demanded the return of Syrian refugees to their towns and villages, after decisions to confiscate their houses had been overturned. He noted that Turkey has also demanded the modernization of public records about Syrians, as well as the return of land title deeds confiscated from the PKK and Iranian-backed Shiite militias to their owners. This approach addresses concerns that constitute the biggest obstacle to the return of Syrian refugees, while the Syrian regime maintains that Turkey must withdraw from the Euphrates Shield, olive branch, and Peace Spring operations and Idleb.
A few days ago, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed that Turkey had begun the project to repatriate Syrians in the coming period in conjunction with four other countries. He noted that the safety of Syrians must be guaranteed before they can be returned to their country, while also revealing intelligence-level meetings with the Syrian regime, where issues related to terrorist organizations were discussed. The Syrian regime’s Foreign Ministry has denied these claims.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.