Nearly 312,000 Syrians have returned home after Turkey’s counterterror operations in northern Syria, Turkey's interior minister said on Monday.
Speaking in the capital Ankara, Suleyman Soylu said, “311, 968 Syrians have returned home after the Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield operations which provided an atmosphere of tranquillity and peace.”
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence there to return home. These regions include Al Bab, Afrin, and Azaz.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when Bashar al Assad's regime cracked down on demonstrators violently.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed or displaced in the conflict, mainly by regime air strikes targeting opposition-held areas.
Soylu also said that Turkey hosts over 3.6 million Syrians granted international protection status.
Turkey has spent more than $32 billion from its own national resources to aid and shelter refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
The interior minister also updated the figures for the irregular migrants held in nationwide operations this year.
Some 6,523 irregular migrants were held across Turkey in the first five weeks of 2019, he added.
Turkey has been the main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe, especially since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.
Among the migrants held in 2017 in Turkey, the majority came from Pakistan, followed by Afghans and Syrians.