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Turkey hopes the buffer zone will keep Syrian Kurdish fighters away from its border
Three million Syrian refugees could be repatriated into safe zone in northeast, Turkey says

09:57 18 September 2019 Author :  

Three million Syrians could return to their country to a planned "safe zone", Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. A US-Turkey safe-zone deal was agreed in August, and now forces from both countries are setting up the area in northeast Syria, which Mr Erdogan says needs to be enlarged in order to accommodate three million people.

He is pushing for the busy exclusion zone to extend from Turkey's border to Deir Ezzor and Raqqa, deep into territory held by Kurdish forces.

Mr Erdogan said he aims to settle "at least one million of our Syrian brothers," and wants to extend the safe zone following talks with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president.

It is believed to be unlikely that US-backed Kurdish fighters will accept Mr Erdogan's offer. Labelled terrorists by Ankara, Kurdish groups say Turkey is planning to use the safe zone to drive out the Kurds already living there.

Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch an offensive against the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria, which have been key to the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Speaking after the meeting with his Russian and Iranian counterparts on Monday, Mr Erdogan said it was unacceptable to support militant groups "under the pretence" of battling Isil.

Since the introduction of the safe zone deal, tens of thousands of civilians have fled from the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib to the Turkish border, with many more expected to join them as Russian and Syrian regime forces attempt to re-take the area.

Turkey has borne much of the brunt of the exodus of Syrians fleeing fighting, and has hosted 3.7 million Syrian refugees since the outbreak of civil war in 2011./agencies

  • عنوان تمهيدي: Turkey hopes the buffer zone will keep Syrian Kurdish fighters away from its border
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