Around 50,000 return to areas cleared of terrorists in Syria, Turkish says
İZMİRTens of thousands of displaced Syrians have returned to an area which was cleared of terrorists by Turkey and Turkish-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said April 1.
Çavuşoğlu said some 50,000 people had returned from Turkey to areas that have been captured by Turkish troops and Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) opposition fighters, adding that security in these areas should eventually be handed to local forces.
“People have started returning to these places,” he said during a visit to İzmir on April 1. “Our soldiers are still there and we need to conduct the work there. We need to establish a totally terror-free zone. The necessary work needs to be done for security to be handed over to local forces. We are continuing our work, including train and equip [programs].”
His comments came a few days after Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said Turkey’s Euphrates Shield Operation, which had begun in August 2016 in order to secure the border with Syria and clear militants from that area, ended after its troops and allied rebels secured territory along the border between Turkey and Syria.
Meanwhile, jets believed to be Russian hit an outpost run by moderate rebel forces in northwestern Syria near a major border crossing with Turkey, killing at least one fighter and wounding several people, two rebel sources told Reuters on April 2.
They said several raids overnight hit Babeska, a village in Idlib province that has become a haven for mainly Jaish al-Islam, a major insurgent group that controls the last major rebel stronghold on the doorstep of the Syrian capital.
A representative of Jaish al-Islam, Mohammad Alloush, told state-run Anadolu Agency that the jets were believed to be Russians due to their evaluation of the sound of the blasts, the targets being struck precisely and the sounds of the jets.