Turkey to return 3mn refugees to Syria after securing border zone – Erdogan

As of Tuesday morning, Turkish forces have “liberated around 1,000 square kilometer area from occupation of the separatist terror group,” Erdogan told a Turkic Council meeting in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.

He was referring to Kurdish militias, which Ankara perceives as an extension of the PKK, a militant and political organization based in Turkey. Erdogan said his country plans to clear an area from Manbij all the way east to the Iraqi border. The land will then be used to resettle some three million Syrian refugees, which Turkey currently hosts.

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“God willing, in short time we will secure the border till Iraq. During the first phase one million refugees will return to Syria and, during phase two, two more million will come,” he said.

Turkey has been repeatedly complaining that it carries a disproportionate burden of refugees who fled Syria over the course of the eight-year-long armed conflict. Erdogan reiterated the complains in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, saying that his nation now has to either get the refugees back to Syria or allow them to move on to Europe similarly to what happened in 2015.

He said it was “portrayed as a threat” by Western governments, but was in fact “mere statement of fact.” Erdogan suggested that other nations should support his campaign in Syria rather than criticize Turkey for it.

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