Syrian refugees in Turkey who fled the ongoing civil war have started their long journey back home for the upcoming Islamic holiday, Eid al-Adha, known as the "Feast of Sacrifice."
With most expected to return to Turkey after the four-day holiday, the refugees are making their way back to visit their relatives who stayed behind and continue to live in towns devastated by the six-year-old conflict.
A vast majority of the Syrians who are making the trip will go to "safe" places that have been spared from utter destruction, or those towns that are in the process of being restored after their liberation from the terrorist group Daesh.
Refugees, most of them families, started making their way back to their home country on Tuesday from the Öncüpınar border crossing in Turkey's Kilis province. They will be allowed to cross into Syria until Aug. 30, the eve of the festival where the faithful traditionally visit their next of kin.
The traveling refugees, who are among the nearly 3 million who fled to Turkey over the past six years, are required to register with authorities before they leave while doctors vaccinate Syrian children against possible diseases.
Under tight security measures, they are crossing to the other side of the border where they are welcomed by opposition forces fighting the Bashar Assad regime.
After spending the last two years in Reyhanlı, a Turkish border town, Abou Waled Samer will return to his hometown for the first time in two years. He says his parents still live in the town that was liberated from Daesh control by the Syrian opposition backed by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) last year.
Samer was among 3,000 Syrians who departed for home yesterday and more are expected to travel in the coming days.
In June, 68,238 Syrians left for their country to mark Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holy celebration, and 59,028 people returned. The rest, more than 9,000 people, opted to stay in their hometowns, all liberated from Daesh in the Turkey-backed Operation Euphrates Shield last year. Syrians will be allowed back in Turkey from the border crossing on Sept. 5 and the crossing will remain open for those returning until Oct. 15.