350,000 Syrians will return to Afrin after operation ends: Turkish PM
KOCAELİ – Anadolu Agency
Around 350,000 people who have taken refuge in Turkey will return to their homes in Syria’s Afrin region after the end of the operation, the Turkish prime minister said on Feb. 25.
Speaking at Gölcük Naval Shipyard Command in the northwestern Kocaeli province, Binali Yıldırım said with the ongoing “Operation Olive Branch,” Turkey has not only protected its own territorial integrity but has also made important contributions to eliminate instability in the region.
He guaranteed Syrian refugees would return to their homes after the region has been cleared of Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants.
“Around 350,000 Afrin people, whom we have been hosting in Turkey, will return to their soil and will continue to live their lives in peace there,” he said.
Yıldırım said Turkey has not only provided security for people in the region and along borders, as well as territorial integrity, but it has also contributed to the annihilation of instability in the region.
“With the Euphrates Shield operation, which was carried out last year, an area more than 2,000 square kilometers was cleared from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organizations. Today, Syrians who have previously been forced to leave their homes are able to return to their own land. As of today, 140,000 people have settled in this region. However, the number of children who have continued school there is only 160,000,” Yıldırım said.
Tensions in Aegean and Mediterranean Seas
The prime minister warned against any tension in both the Aegean and Mediterranean regions. “Naval forces have the power to eliminate every kind of danger to their country under all conditions and circumstances,” he said.
“No one should make a mistake [about that],” Yıldırım added.
On Feb. 12, a Turkish patrol boat rammed into the Greek Coast Guard’s patrol boat near the Kardak islets in the southeastern Aegean. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the crisis had been solved without any problems.
In January, the Turkish Coast Guard blocked Greek Minister of Defense Panos Kammenos, who had been approaching the islets to lay a wreath there.