Turkey will continue its efforts toward preventing another humanitarian tragedy in northwestern Syria’s Idlib, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Sunday.
It added that at least 400,000 Syrian’s have returned to their homeland since an Ankara-Moscow brokered cease-fire came into effect.
In a briefing Sunday, the ministry recalled that Turkey helped stop the tragedy with the March agreement and stressed that efforts will be made to preserve the cease-fire, prevent further bloodshed, protect the stability and enable Syrians to return home.
“Developments are being closely followed in coordination with the Russian Federation, while numerous measures have been taken to ensure the safety of our units,” the ministry added.
In March, a fragile truce was brokered between Moscow and Ankara in response to the months of fighting by the Russia-backed regime that launched military offensives on the country’s last major opposition stronghold in Idlib and displaced almost a million people from their homes. Most of the refugees sought shelter at camps close to the border with Turkey, while others went to areas under the control of the Syrian opposition.
Currently, Turkish soldiers are stationed in the region to protect the local population and oppose terrorist groups.
Russian forces, however, have repeatedly violated the cease-fire and conducted attacks on civilians as well as the Syrian opposition. Most recently, Russian airstrikes targeted an opposition training camp, killing at least 78 soldiers and wounding another 90.
Turkey kills 134 PKK terrorists
Turkey is also continuing its fight against terrorism both in and outside the country, the ministry said.
Accordingly, 134 PKK terrorists were killed in operations to hinder their ability to enter the country and prevent them from settling on either side of the border. Among them, 56 of these were killed inside Turkey while the remaining 78 were killed elsewhere.
The statement also focused on 24/7 border security, counterterrorism operations and Turkey’s efforts against the terrorist groups’ financial networks that include drug and illegal trafficking.
“As part of physical border security measures, a total of 973 kilometers (604 miles) of concrete, modular walls have been erected on the Syrian and Iranian borders, 832 kilometers and 141 kilometers respectively,” it said.
To support the normalization of life and infrastructure in the territories under its protection, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) cleared 813 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Operation Peace Spring area, 115 in the Operation Olive Branch area and 259 in the Operation Euphrates Shield area between January and September.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful operations – Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019) – across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terrorist corridor and enable the peaceful resettlement of locals.
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