Turkish army's efforts enable Syrian refugees to return to Ras al-Ayn
ANKARANov 02, 2019 - 12:04 pm GMT+3
Nov 02, 2019 12:04 pm
Turkish security forces are continuing moves in the recently liberated city of Ras al-Ayn in northern Syria to allow for the return of refugees to a safe and stable environment. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) regularly carries out search activities in the region and has cleared more than 400 mines and improvised explosive devices so far. While reconnaissance work is still being conducted, Turkish and Russian military forces have launched joint patrols in the area east of the safe zone outlined as part of Turkey's Peace Spring cross-border operation, accompanied by drones and armored vehicles. “The presence of the PKK has been totally removed from Ras al-Ayn. The mines and improvised explosive devices planted by the terrorist organization everywhere, including hospitals and places of worship, have been uncovered, while the PKK's tunnels, carved throughout the entire city center have also been found and destroyed,” the Coordinator of Syrian Turkmen Assembly Cemil Doğaç İpek told Daily Sabah, adding that Turkey’s military operation was being conducted without damage to buildings. "The [buildings] that are damaged have been done so by the PKK,” he added. A bomb-loaded vehicle has been neutralized by the TSK, a factory for improvised explosive devices has been rendered unusable and one tonne of ammonium nitrate has been seized. Security officials stated that the first four-hour-long patrols engaged in jointly between Turkey and Russia, conducted 40 kilometers east of Ras al-Ayn and 30 kilometers west of Qamishli, had been completed yesterday and that every necessary precaution had been taken in the two regions by the TSK. “Nearly 50,000 people have returned to Ras al-Ayn since the operation. As part of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly, we went to the area to meet civilian needs, just as the TSK and the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) have done,” İpek said, indicating that the Christian community, which had not abandoned the city, but could not use its places of worship due to the PKK, was also visited by the Syrian Turkmen Assembly, including President Muhammad Vecih Cuma and the Al-Hamza Division of the Syrian National Army (SNA). The town of Ras al-Ayn, located across the border from Ceyplanpınar district, in the southeastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa, was cleared of terrorists on Oct.12. However, the TSK and the SNA continue their reconnaissance activities in the area. “Ras al-Ayn, which is predominantly an Arab region is also home to groups of Turkmens, Christians and Assyrians. Those who had formerly fled the PKK, seeking refuge in Turkey, are now returning,” İpek stated, while mentioning that people have not been permitted to enter certain rural areas where the disposal of explosives still continues. Turkey, in coordination with Russia, has returned 18 members of the Bashar Assad regime forces who were detained in Syria's Ras al-Ayn, the Defense Ministry confirmed early Friday. "Eighteen regime elements seized during the search/detection/reconnaissance/security activities in the southeast of Ras al-Ayn on Oct. 29 were handed over as a result of the coordination with the authorities of the Russian Federation,” the ministry announced. It was on Tuesday that the capturing of the 18 fighters was announced and that the issue was being coordinated with Russian officials. The Defense Ministry also stated yesterday that one soldier lost his life and six were injured due to an explosion caused by improvised explosive devices that were planted previously by terrorists.
Meanwhile, it was seen that the YPG destroyed a school in Ras al-Ayn while it was in the process of withdrawal from the area. By blowing it up with mines, the terrorist group rendered the school unusable. The SNA is clearing off areas where terrorists planted mines. On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, the third in a series of cross-border anti-terror operations in northern Syria. The operation aims to drive Daesh, and PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists away from Turkey's southeastern border with Syria and establish a terror-free safe zone for the repatriation of Syrian refugees. Ankara and Moscow agreed to conduct joint patrols as a result of high-level talks which took place between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Oct. 22. The two countries reached a deal under which the YPG terrorists will pull back 30 kilometers south of Turkey's border with northern Syria. Erdoğan and Putin reached the deal amid a U.S.-brokered pause in Turkey's anti-terror military operation in Syria.