Some 370,000 Syrian refugees living in Turkey have been relocated to Turkish-held areas in northeastern Syria, Vice President Fuat Oktay claimed on Tuesday, adding that the refugees returned to their homelands “voluntarily,” according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
“Around 370,000 people have returned to areas cleared of terrorists,” Oktay told the International Forum on Local Solutions to Migration and Displacement in southeastern Gaziantep province.
Turkey has made three incursions into Syria in the last three years, with the most recent operation, called Operation Peace Spring, launched on Oct. 9 to clear the region of Kurdish militia deemed a terrorist organization by Ankara.
The Turkish government aims to create a safe zone in northeastern Syria to relocate up to 2 million Syrian refugees.
A recent Amnesty International report suggested that most Syrians removed from İstanbul in recent months were involuntarily detained and relocated to Turkish-held regions in Syria.