A possible migration wave from Idlib is a major concern for safe regions liberated by Turkey through the operations Euphrates Shied and Olive Branch in northern Syria, local councils said. The chairmen of the local councils stated that they would be pleased to host refugees in case of a possible migration wave; however, they also expressed their concerns that the region is not ready to host such a population.
Speaking to the Anadolu Agency (AA), Azaz Local Council Chairman Mohammad Hamdan Yusuf said that Azaz, where almost 150,000 people reside, has developed a lot with the support of Turkey. Stating that Azaz is the only liberated region with 24-hour access to electricity, he also added that there have been major developments in the areas of healthcare and education.
Commenting on a possible migration wave from Idlib, Yusuf said, "50,000 people were living in Azaz before the war. Following the war, this number reached 150,000 as a result of incoming migrations. In case of a migration from Idlib, we can host them in camps for a month or two months. Then, we can transfer them to other camps. Azaz and its surrounding is a region where attracted many migrations. Even under the olive trees, there are people living. If we face a huge wave of migration, we cannot overcome it."
Ali Seyh, the head of local council in the Soran town of Azaz, said that the population of the town increased five times after the elimination of Daesh presence in the region. He also stated that the town does not have the capacity to host refugees in case of a heavy migration.
İsmet Abbas, head of local council in al-Bab's Çobanbey town, underlined that the population of the town reached almost 45,000. "We are expecting a migration wave from Idlib. They are our brothers. We do all we can for them, but we are not ready in terms of infrastructure," he said. Turkey carried out two cross-border operations west of the Euphrates River, Operation Euphrates Shield launched in August 2016 and Operation Olive Branch in January 2018, to drive terrorist groups, including the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh, from its borders.
While the country liberated northwestern territories from Daesh, it also prevented the YPG from establishing a de facto autonomous region in Syria connecting the northwestern Afrin canton to the Kobani and Jazeera cantons in the northeast, which Ankara describes as a "terror corridor" posing a grave threat to its national security.