Around 500,000 Syrians have returned to safe zones created by Türkiye since 2016 when it started a cross-border movement in northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Erdogan said the scheme would be implemented with local councils in 13 different regions in northern Syria.
Erdogan said the scheme would be implemented with local councils in 13 different regions in northern Syria. (AA)

Türkiye has been working on a new project that will allow voluntary return of 1 million Syrians staying in the country, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Speaking via a video link at the inauguration ceremony of a housing project in Syria's Idlib on Tuesday, Erdogan said 500,000 Syrians have already returned to safe regions.

"Since 2016, when Türkiye started cross-border movement in the face of the deepening humanitarian tragedy in Syria, 500,000 Syrians have returned to the safe zones it has created."

In coordination with Türkiye's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and with the help of NGO's, 57,306 of 77,000 houses have been completed so far, he said.

"Not only have we opened our doors to enable the oppressed to save their lives and dignity, but we also make every effort so that they can return to their homes," he said. 

"We support the ongoing migration strategy with projects to encourage voluntary returns," he said, adding, "The construction of briquette houses was one of these steps."

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"Extensive" project

He said Türkiye will implement the new project with the support of national and international non-governmental organisations. 

"The project, which we will carry out together with local councils in 13 different regions, including Azez, Jarablus, El bab, Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, is quite extensive."

The number of Syrians living in Türkiye is now around four million, and according to the Interior Ministry, nearly 175,000 Syrians received Turkish citizenship between 2011 and 2021.

Syria has been mired in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. 

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

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies