"Turkey was widely criticised when it sent forces into Syria. But today, the Syrians they protect are glad the Turks are there, despite their hardship," said Carlotta Gall, the Istanbul bureau chief for The New York Times.

Zakarya al Youssef, a 16-year-old visually impaired boy, walks with his brother at an internally displaced camp in Idlib, Syria February 7, 2021.
Zakarya al Youssef, a 16-year-old visually impaired boy, walks with his brother at an internally displaced camp in Idlib, Syria February 7, 2021. (Reuters)

Turkey’s soldiers are the only ones preventing the possible slaughter of millions of Syrians at the hands of regime leader Bashar al Assad’s forces, The New York Times has said. 

“As an end to the decade-long Syrian civil war still confounds the world, Turkey has become the only international force on the ground protecting some five million displaced and vulnerable civilians," said an article titled "In Turkey’s Safe Zone in Syria, Security and Misery Go Hand in Hand."

The article, written by Carlotta Gall, the Istanbul bureau chief for The New York Times who covers Turkey for the newspaper, said "Turkey was widely criticised when it sent forces into Syria."

"But today, the Syrians they protect are glad the Turks are there, despite their hardship," said Gall.

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She said it is Turkish troops "that stand between them and potential slaughter at the hands of regime leader Bashar al Assad’s forces and those of his Russian allies."

The report cited a once wealthy landowner from Damascus as saying that he wanted to stay in Turkey as long as Assad rules the war-torn country.

"We won’t go back to our villages until Turkey gives us protection. Without the Turks, we cannot survive," he said.

“Here, at least I can stay alive,” a former opposition fighter-turned porter, who had taken refuge from the Syrian regime in the country's north, said. “There, I would be dead. There, I would be thinking all the time, ‘Will they arrest me?’”

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN estimates.

Beginning in 2016, Turkey has launched three military operations in northwest Syria to secure its borders against Daesh and YPG/PKK terrorists and to push back Syrian regime forces.

The report went on to mention the significance of Ankara's "unexpected stand" against a Russian and Syrian regime offensive on Idlib in 2019.

On October 22, Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists would pull back 30 kilometres south of Turkey’s border with Syria, and security forces from Turkey and Russia would mount joint patrols there.

It also highlighted the challenges faced by the Turkish forces in areas it cleared of the YPG/PYD group.

The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror group. The PKK, that is recognised as a terror outfit by the US, UK , EU and Turkey, has waged an armed camapaign against the Turkish state that has claimed more than 40,000 lives during the past four decades.

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Source: AA