143,000 Syrians living in Turkey get back to homeland in last 8 months
Some 143,000 expatriate Syrians in Turkey have returned to settlements in northern Syria near the Turkish border, including Afrin, over the last eight months, according to estimates based on official data.
Taking along necessities, Syrian families hosted by Turkey moved back to Afrin and nearby villages near the border after the region was cleared of terrorist groups by cross-border Turkish military operations.
Crossings continue unabated at Turkey's Cilvegözü border gate into Syria.
In late August Turkey's Foreign Ministry said that a total over 340,000 Syrians had returned to their homes after successful Turkish counter-terror operations in the region since 2016, referring to Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch.
Turkey's Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northern Syria liberated regions including Afrin, Al-Bab, and Azaz from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence there to return home.
On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.
The agreement also envisaged setting up necessary security measures to address Turkey's security concerns, including clearing the zone of the terrorist YPG/PKK, a group the U.S. has sometimes been allied with, over Turkey's objections.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is the group's Syrian branch.
Syria has just emerged from a devastating civil war that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.