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Erdogan announces liberation of Syria ‘safe zone’, ready for refugees to return

October 15, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkiye on 19 May 2022 [Aytaç Ünal/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has today announced the securement of liberated territory for the planned safe zone in Syria, with a length of 444 kilometres and a depth of 32 kilometres.

Speaking at the side-lines of the 7th summit of the Turkish Council, the meeting of Turkic nations based in the Azerbaijani capital Baku, Erdogan declared: “We are now announcing the establishment of a safe area 444km from west to east and 32km from north to south, to which the refugees in our country will return.”

He accused world leaders of betraying the mission of establishing the safe zone for the benefit of Syrian refugees, saying that Turkey’s “support so far to nearly 4 million protection seekers in our country is known, and our expenses exceeded $40 billion.” He then said that he called out world leaders who, when the time came to give their support, gave out not a “penny out of their pockets”.

READ: Erdogan signals Turkish operation to Syria’s Manbij

He also iterated the importance of the Turkish Council, noting that “the weight of structures such as the Turkish Council in world politics is increasing,” and stressed the importance of becoming more united politically and economically. “We should take measures to reduce the pressure of foreign exchange on our economies. I want to underline the importance we attach to local currency trading. Quotas are unfortunately one of the biggest obstacles to our trade. As the Turkish Council, we need to remove the quotas between us.”

This unity between Turkic nations was somewhat proven yesterday when Azerbaijani youths and veterans declared their support for the Turkish operation into north-east Syria, and even requested they join Turkish armed forces in the fight against Kurdish militias.

Today marks the seventh day of the Turkish military incursion into Syria, named Operation Peace Spring, the third and largest of two previous operations into northern Syria – Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016 and Operation Olive Branch in 2018. The aims of the current operation are to push the Kurdish militias such as the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which Turkey perceives as a national security threat on its border region – further back from the Syrian-Turkish border and to establish the planned safe zone east of the Euphrates River that could house over two million refugees.

READ: West’s arms sales ban will not stop our plans in Syria says Erdogan