By Selen Temizer, Levent Tok, and Adham Kako
ANKARA (AA) - The safe zone touted by Turkey’s leader during his address to the UN General Assembly could resettle millions of Syrians in an area stretching 480 kilometers along the country’s border with Syria.
On Tuesday, Erdogan told the UN General Assembly that a peace corridor on Turkey's border with Syria will enable the resettlement of some one to two million Syrians who fled the country.
He added that if the zone is extended to the Deir ez-Zor-Raqqa line, the number would reach 3 million Syrians, including ones from Turkey, Europe, and other countries.
Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed on Aug. 7 to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home.
The 30-km wide area includes the settlements of Jarabulus, Manbij, Ayn al-Arab (Kobani), Tal Abyad, Suluk, Ras al-Ayn, Darbasiyah, Amude, Qamishli, and al-Malikiyah.
The settlements -- except for Jarabulus, which was cleared of terrorists by Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016-2017 -- are currently occupied by the terrorist group YPG/PKK.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence to return home.
- Border at M4 highway
The M4 highway, which connects Syria’s east to its west, constitutes the border for the safe zone.
Including the M4 in the safe zone aims to block YPG/PKK terrorists from accessing the area and their armed activities in the region.
The terror group is currently using the highway for logistic and trade activities.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, over 5 million civilians have become refugees, and Turkey hosts over 3.6 million of them, the country hosting the most refugees in the world.
The terror group YPG/PKK occupies one-third of Syria, while it also occupies three-fourths of Turkey’s border.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is its Syrian branch.
*Contributions and writing by Sena Guler