| 2 December 2023, Saturday |

Türkiye to repatriate Syrian refugees to regime-controlled areas

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that Ankara is seeking to safely return Syrian refugees to areas controlled by the Syrian government, and not only to safe areas in northern Syria.

In an interview with a local channel on Friday, the Turkish FM said: “We want to return the Syrians to the places controlled by the regime as well, not just to the safe areas.”

Cavusoglu indicated that this issue was discussed with the Syrian government within the framework of the so-called Quad-like grouping with Russia, Iran, Syria and Türkiye.

“We agreed at the recent meeting of foreign ministers in Moscow held on May 10, to prepare the infrastructure in order to send the Syrians safely to the places controlled by the regime, and we decided to form a committee at the level of deputy ministers with the participation of the concerned institutions as well,” he noted.

“In other words, we are already determined to send the Syrians back. Secondly, we do not do this with a racist discourse, we do not forget that they are also human,” Cavusoglu added.

Recently the Syrian refugees file topped the political agenda in Türkiye, which headed Sunday for a decisive runoff vote after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could not win the presidential race in the first round. He will face the leader of the main opposition CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Ahead of the runoff, Kilicdaroglu stated that Türkiye would deport 10 million refugees and immigrants immediately if he wins the polls through negotiations with the Syrian government, European Union, and United Nations to ensure their voluntary and safe return.

For his part, Erdogan spoke a few days ago about the return of more than a million refugees to the areas controlled by Türkiye and its allied factions of the Syrian National Army (SNA) in northern Syria.

Meanwhile, Türkiye has launched the construction of nearly a quarter million housing units to resettle refugees in opposition-held northern Syria.

“Syrian refugees living in Türkiye will settle in the houses… as part of a dignified, voluntary safe return,” Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Wednesday at the launch of the project.

He said that “240,000 houses will be built” in the region, expressing hope that the project would be completed in three years.

On Friday, Cavusoglu said in his television interview that almost 553,000 Syrians had returned to areas where terrorism had defeated northern Syria.

He also pointed out that most of the Syrians in Türkiye want to return to their country, and stressed “the need to implement this process within the framework of international and Turkish laws.”

  • Asharq Al-Awsat