Turkish President Says 3m Refugees Could Be Returned to Syria Safe Zone

Wednesday, 18 September, 2019 - 12:45
Asharq Al-Awsat

Turkish President Recep Tayyip said Wednesday that up to three million Syrian refugees could be returned to a "safe zone" it is seeking to establish in northern Syria.

Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, the highest number in the world, which lead to signs of a public backlash over their presence after eight long years of war in its neighbor to the south.

Working with the United States, Turkish forces are seeking to clear a swathe of northern Syria to facilitate the return of refugees, AFP reported.

If successful, "we will be able to house, depending on the depth of the safe zone, between two and three million Syrian refugees that are currently in Turkey and Europe," Erdogan said in a televised speech.

Erdogan said earlier that he envisions the "peace corridor" as stretching right across northern Syria all the way to Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, which he said would allow even more than three million to return.

He called for "much greater support" from Europe in realising the plan.

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