At the opening ceremony of the new Turkish Parliament legislative year, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan presented his plan to relocate 2 million Syrian refugees, in line with what had been leaked already four years ago.
Erdoğan indicated that after being hosted by Turkey, the time had come to repatriate the refugees, and pledged to ensure their safety. A safe zone, 30-kilometers deep inside Syria, would be placed under the joint responsibility of the Turkish army. He added that one million people will be transferred to new communities, and another one million to already existing ones. "We will resettle these people in 50 cities of 30,000 inhabitants and in 140 villages with a population of 5,000 each," he stated.
According to the map previously published by Anadolu Agency, the strip of land covered by the safe-zone will be cut off at Qamishli (which would be left outside), thereby precluding the creation of an independent State. The city of Manbij would, however, form part of the zone.
This project was reportedly approved by the United States and may even garner international funding.
President Erdoğan did not touch on the fate of the remaining 1 650 million Syrian refugees remaining in Turkey.
In the past, President Hafez al-Assad had granted the Turkish army the green light to hunt down Kurdish fighters who attacked Turkey from inside Syrian territory. Likewise, he had allowed the Israeli army to protect itself from Palestinian gunfire. The area of pursuit, extending approximately 30 kilometers, was based on the firing range of the mortars.