Over 260,000 refugees in Turkey return to areas cleared of terrorism in Syria

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published

Turkey's efforts in northern Syria to establish stability, including successful counterterrorism operations, have enabled 260,000 Syrians living in the country to turn back to their homes to areas liberated from terrorist groups.

"Over 260,000 refugees returned to areas of Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch in Syria," Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday.

Sharing a 911 km-long border with war-torn Syria, Turkey has been playing a pivotal role in efforts to alleviate the suffering of Syrians who had to leave their countries. Turkey followed an open door policy and has been hosting over 3.5 million refugees. While providing shelter to many Syrians, Turkey also raised hopes for them to return to their homes with its counterterror operation.

In accordance with the efforts to provide stability in the region, Turkey has carried out two major cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 - Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch - meant to rid border areas of terrorist groups such as the PKK and its Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG), which threaten both Turkey and the local population.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to remove terrorists from northwestern Syria's Afrin. The Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) entered Afrin town center and liberated it from terrorists on March 18. Following the operations, Turkey has been also involving efforts to rebuild the towns' infrastructure, as well as health and education institutions. Schools are being renovated and a hospital is being built. Turkey also helps local people build olive oil facilities in the town where agriculture is the main source of income for residents. Tens of thousands of people who fled terrorist groups in Afrin returned to the town after Operation Olive Branch. In a recent development, Turkey's postal directorate is preparing to open a post office in Afrin. A building which had been used a post office before the conflict in Syria has been refurbished and the traditional yellow sign of the Turkish Post and Telegraph Organization (PTT) accompanied with Arabic letters and the flags of the FSA and Turkey were placed there as well.

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