Turkish minister warns of mass migration from Idlib

By Ismihan Ozguven, Bekir Omer Fansa and Anil Bagrik

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey will not be responsible for a migration wave in case of possible attacks on Syria's Idlib, Turkish interior minister said on Sunday.

Suleyman Soylu was speaking to reporters in Yayladagi district of Turkey's southern province of Hatay bordering Syria.

The Syrian regime has recently announced plans to launch a major military offensive in the area, which has long been controlled by various armed opposition groups.

The UN warned earlier this week that such an offensive would lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st century".

"255,300 Syrians have returned to their homes over the past 2 years, 160,000 of them returned to Euphrates Shield region after Turkey brought peace there", Soylu said.

Euphrates Shield cut off the PKK/PYD/YPG terror groups' access to the Mediterranean Sea and eliminated threats posed by the terrorist group along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Operation Euphrates Shield, which began on Aug. 24, 2016 and ended in March 2017, was aimed at eliminating the terrorist threat along the border in the northern Syrian regions of Jarabulus, Al-Rai, Al-Bab, and Azaz with the use of the Free Syrian Army, backed by Turkish artillery and air cover.

Slamming so-called big countries about their approach on the Syrian crisis, the interior minister said there is a major contradiction in what those countries say and do regarding the issue.

Meanwhile, Soylu also noted an average of 6,800 irregular migrants used to enter Greece from western Turkey daily in 2015 and now it has been reduced to 79.

Turkey has been a main route for irregular migrants trying to cross into Europe, especially since 2011 when the Syrian civil war began.

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