500,000 expected to go back to Syria after Afrin operation: Turkey’s first lady
ISTANBUL – Dogan News Agency
Some 500,000 Syrians are expected to go back to the northwestern Syrian district of Afrin, where Turkey is conducting a military operation to clear People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants from the region, Emine Erdoğan, the wife of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said.
“The aim of this operation is to ensure safety in the region. When security and stability is ensured in the region with Operation Olive Branch, new flows will be stopped and those who are already here [Turkey] are expected to be able to go back to their country,” she said.
The first lady delivered her speech in a conference held in Istanbul aiming to increase humanitarian aid for Syrians and create new communication channels in the field.
Erdoğan also referred to Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation, after which more than 140,000 Syrians returned to Jarablus.
Turkey carried out the Euphrates Shield Operation into Syria between August 2016 and March 2017 in northern Syria, targeting both the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
The wife of Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin, Şeyma Şahin, and representatives from the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the Turkish Red Crescent, the United Nations and Syrian non-governmental organizations also attended the conference.
“We face a moral issue in Syria, not a political one. People have been losing their homes, their family members and their health for seven years in Syria. International institutions, non-governmental organizations and states need to come together around alarming problems,” Erdoğan said.
“Turkey has been hosting nearly 4 million Syrian refugees for several years. The government, NGOs and people are all doing their best to improve the situation for these people. There is no other country demonstrating this level of unified effort for refugees anywhere in the world,” she added.
“After Operation Olive Branch, nearly 500,000 people are expected to return to Afrin,” she noted.
Turkey’s military on Jan. 20 launched “Operation Olive Branch” in the northwestern Syrian district of Afrin in a bid to clear the YPG from its southern border.