60,000 Syrians move to Idlib from Turkey: Report
Syrians who are crossing the border through the Cilvegözü border gate in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay told the agency that they were returning home as Idlib and surrounding regions “are now safe.”
Turkey and Russia brokered a deal last month to set up a demilitarized zone to ensure a cease-fire in Idlib, the country’s last remaining rebel stronghold, they initiated maintains. But violence last week in Idlib has shown the fragility of the deal to avert a large-scale offensive by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which has vowed to take full control of the country since it lost swathes of territory during the Syrian civil war.
Meanwhile, out of 129,000 Syrians who left Turkey in the summer to spend the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha in their war-torn homeland with their surviving relatives, 103,000 have so far come back to Turkey, the agency said. The remaining 26,000 people are expected to come back to Turkey by the end of this year.
Under the Astana agreement, sealed by guarantor powers Turkey, Russia and Iran, Turkish forces are present at 12 points from Idlib’s north to south, to sustain the cease-fire in Syria.
Turkey has said its military’s presence in northwestern Syria, Afrin district and areas captured in operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch helped establish security and stability in the region.
Turkey has been hosting a large number of refugees since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. The Syrian refugee population was 2.8 million in 2016 and 3.4 million in 2017.
Turkish authorities estimate the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey will exceed 5 million by 2028.