Thousands of Syrians have not returned to Turkey voluntarily after going back to their country to celebrate Islamic holidays, said Turkey's deputy director general of Migration Management.
Abdullah Ayaz told Anadolu Agency that 50,000 Syrians have not returned to Turkey at their own will.
He said even though returns to Turkey would still continue after the Qurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha), a high number of Syrians would remain in their homeland.
Ayaz said 153,258 Syrians residing in Turkey went to their country during the Ramadan Bayram (Eid al-Fitr).
Muslims across the world celebrate the Eid al-Fitr, a three-day festival that follows the fasting month of Ramadan.
"Around 15 percent of Syrians who left Turkey during the holidays in 2017 did not return to our country, and 57 percent of those who left in 2018 did not return," Ayaz said.
A total of 252,000 Syrians returned to their country thanks to Turkey's anti-terror operations, Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, Ayaz said.
Ayaz went on to say that in 2017, the number of those who left for the holidays and did not return to Turkey was over 40,000.
"The increase recorded in 2018 is the reflection of Turkey's administrative and military success in terms of being the indicator of security and stability in Syria, which was provided with the Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch," he said.
Ayaz also responded to criticism regarding the exit permit given to Syrians.
"The number of Syrians who didn't return to Turkey has shown how right a step was this opportunity given to them due to the Islamic holidays," he said.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating civil war that began in 2011. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict and millions more displaced, according to the UN.
Turkey currently hosts nearly 3.5 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.
The country has spent some $30 billion for the refugees living in tent camps as well as those living outside on their own. As the conflict escalated, Turkey stepped up its advocacy for the establishment of safe zones within Syria, to accommodate those who took shelter abroad as well as the internally displaced Syrians.
The number of Syrian returning home increased in the past months after two military operations by Turkey saw off Daesh terrorists from al-Bab and Jarablus, and the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin.