UPDATE WITH MORE REMARKS OF INTERIOR MINISTER, MORE DETAILS
By Lale Koklu and Erdal Turkoglu
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 where he visited Turkmen people who had come from Syria's Bayirbucak region.
"We care about humanity and we won't give up. We (Turkey) will not be responsible for a migration wave in case of possible attacks (on Syria's Idlib)," he said.
Soylu stated that Turkey is facing the largest migration issue because of the Syrian civil war.
"We have taken necessary precautions," he added.
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.
"Today 3.55 million Syrians are living in Turkey and 185,000 of them are living in the camps," Soylu said.
He noted that 4,500 Turkmen people from Bayirbucak are living in the camp in Yayladagi district. "They have been here for nearly seven years. They miss Turkmen Mountains and their homeland," he said.
The Turkmen Mountains in northwestern Syria’s Latakia falls within a network of de-escalation zones.
In 2015, the Syrian regime — backed by Russian air power — captured some 85 percent of Latakia’s Turkmen Mountain region, forcing some 20,000 of the area’s Turkmen and Arab inhabitants to flee northward to Turkey.
Under an earlier agreement endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, Turkmen Mountain falls within a network of de-escalation zones in which acts of aggression are expressly forbidden.
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.