Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to stress his intention to establish a “safe zone” in northern Syria to return Syrian refugees in Turkey to Syria. This comes at a time when there is continuing pressure from the Turkish opposition to return these refugees to their country.
In this regard, Erdogan, during a speech to the Turkish parliament on Saturday, said: “Since 2016, more than half a million Syrian refugees in Turkey, have returned to their country.” He noted that “since the start of our cross-border operations in Syria, in 2016, about 526,000 Syrians have returned to the areas we have established in the north of the country.”
Erdogan announced in recent months that preparations are being made for the return of one million Syrian refugees voluntarily out of the 3.7 million refugees officially registered in Turkey. He called on the international community to continue funding housing and infrastructure in northwestern Syria, which it controls, some of which are armed groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, alongside Turkish forces and other Ankara factions.
The issue of Syrian refugees has been a hot file in Turkey for eight months. It has threatened the chances of winning the ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara in the upcoming presidential elections. In this context, the opposition Turkish Good party announced on Saturday that it would deport Syrian refugees residing in Turkey to Syria as soon as it comes to power. This will be through a mechanism of dividing them into three batches that will last until 2026. The party pointed out that their return plan will not be throughout the year but over the course of the summer. The summer months are between June 1 and September 30, gradually over a period of three years.
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.