Around 1.8 million Syrian refugees from surrounding and foreign countries have returned to their homes and respective areas in Syria, a joint statement by the Russian and Syrian coordinating headquarters revealed yesterday.
The “organised mass return of Syrian refuges to their places of permanent residence or temporary accommodation centres has been resolved. As of today, about 1.8 million Syrian citizens have already returned to their homes,” the statement reported.
Since the overall success of the campaign to defeat Daesh and the capture of its capital Raqqa and territories in the north of Syria, there have allegedly been gradual waves of both internally displaced Syrians and refugees abroad who have sought to move back to their respective areas. On Sunday, Russia’s defence ministry claimed that almost 900 Syrians returned to the country, and in May the Turkish interior minister stated that almost 330,000 Syrians in Turkey had returned home after the Turkish military secured land in the north of Syria by conducting operations to clear the areas of terror groups and activity.
Following the Assad regime’s recapture of much of the opposition-held territory over the past few years of the conflict, the vast majority of the internally displaced Syrian population fled to the province of Idlib in the north-west corner of the country, which is the last opposition-held stronghold.
The over three million Syrians who currently inhabit Idlib, many of whom have been displaced from the east of the country, have been undergoing a constant air and ground assault for over a month by regime forces backed by Russia.
The assault has escalated in recent weeks, destroying hospitals, schools and medical health clinics, while forcing many of the refugees towards the Turkish border. A primary concern of the UN has been that the assault, which has been labelled a humanitarian crisis, would cause a new wave of refugees to flood into Turkey, adding to the existing refugee crisis and the four million refugees already residing in the country.
Whilst some refugees been driven back into Syria due to the humanitarian crisis over the past few months, most have refused the offer due to fear of arrest and torture by the regime upon their return, fears Russian authorities were claimed are unfounded.
Despite promising that those who ventured back would be able to freely return to their homes, the reports of abuse and reprisals have dissuaded many from making the trip, even as their future in the camps in which they are seeking shelter remain uncertain.
The Public Relation Committee said it held the UN and international community responsible for their continued inaction over the situation in the camp.
The war in Syria has killed more than 600,000 people since 2011, the vast majority by regime-allied forces.
More than half of the country’s 21 million population has been displaced, and the Assad government, led by the Muslim Alawite minority, has faced accusations of repopulation along sectarian lines. Some 14,000 Syrians are still being held in regime prisons, whilst the fate of a further 82,000 remain unknown.