Number of Syrians in Turkey exceed 3.6 million: Minister
The number of Syrian migrants in Turkey has surpassed 3.6 million, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has said, while adding that more than 350,000 people have returned to their war-hit country following Turkey’s cross-border security operations.
“The number of Syrians who reside in our country under the status of temporary protection has exceeded 3.5 million,” Soylu said yesterday, addressing an international security congress at the Gendarmerie and Coast Guard Academy in Ankara on Sept. 19.
Last year, around 268.000 unregistered migrants were caught and the figure has already exceeded 270,000 so far this year, he added.
“Thanks to the secure environment achieved with the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations, some 354,000 Syrians have returned to their hometowns at their own will,” the minister said.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northern Syria have liberated regions including Al-Bab, Afrin, and Azaz from both ISIL and the YPG, the Syrian branch of the outlawed PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
“A secure area in Syria is escalating volunteer returns to the country. Turkey is working to sustain peace in the region via dialogue and consultancy with its counterparts in foreign politics,” he said.
The PKK finds its financial, manpower and political resources in Europe, the minister said, adding that it controls a major portion of drug trafficking across the continent.
Turkey has held more than 90,000 anti-PKK operations so far this year, he said.