Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have left Turkey and returned to the towns and cities they evacuated in Syria, the nation’s foreign minister said today.
“More than 346,000 Syrians have returned to areas of Syria which were cleared of terrorists in Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint press conference in Lebanon alongside his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil, referring to Turkish operations since 2016.
Speaking about the refugees’ voluntary return to their country, Cavusoglu said Turkey can share its experience with Lebanon which is also hosting a large number of refugees.
Turkey hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any country in the world. Lebanon, with 1.5 million, is second.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northern Syria emptied regions including Al-Bab, Afrin and Azaz from Kurdish fighters and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence there to return.
He stressed that Turkey will continue to provide security and stability to Lebanon within the frameworks of bilateral relations.
During his visit, Cavusoglu met with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun in the Beiteddine Palace near the country’s capital.
Aoun, for his part, said efforts should be made to return the estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, adding that humanitarian assistance should continue to be delivered to them even after their return to their homeland.