Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu says successful cross-border campaigns Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch paved way for repatriation of Syrian refugees from Turkey.
Nearly 300,000 Syrians returned to their homes after the Turkish military conducted successful operations in northern Syria, Turkey's interior minister said on Saturday.
"The number of Syrians who returned to their home country after the Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch is 291,790," Suleyman Soylu said at the second International Coordination Meeting on Irregular Migration.
Turkey conducted two cross-border operations in Syria since 2016 –– Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch –– to eradicate the presence of YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists near Turkey's borders.
Illegal crossing of refugees
Speaking about Turkey's geographical location as the main route for illegal crossings of refugees who want to go to Europe, the interior minister said that in 2018 so far 251,794 irregular migrants were held during their attempts to illegally cross borders.
He added that Turkish coast guards and security forces continue to work efficiently to prevent illegal crossings.
Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe, especially since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.
Years of bloodshed and displacement
According to the UN refugee agency, the total number of Syrian refugees registered in Turkey is 3,611,834 as of December 22, 2018.
Over seven years of relentless bloodshed in Syria has killed more than 400,000 Syrians, and displaced more than half of Syria's 20 million, pre-war population.
Nearly 5.5 million Syrians have fled abroad — 95 percent of them in just five countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt), according to humanitarian groups.