By Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) - Around 60,000 Syrians in Türkiye have returned to their home country across the border since the Feb. 6 earthquakes centered in Türkiye's southern region, the Turkish national defense minister said on Monday.
Speaking in the quake-hit Hatay province, Hulusi Akar rebuffed claims of illegal crossings at the Turkish border, saying it "is absolutely untrue."
Saying that Türkiye's borders are being "intensely" protected, guarded and monitored on a 24/7 basis with "state-of-the-art technology vehicles and equipment," Akar affirmed that they are taking foolproof measures.
The Turkish defense chief further said that the claims of an influx of Syrian refugees to Türkiye via its southern border are "clearly untrue."
"Around 60,000 Syrians living in Türkiye are returning to their own land due to the loss of their homes and relatives," he added.
On Feb. 6, magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes struck 11 Turkish provinces – Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa - which claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people.
More than 13.5 million people in Türkiye have been affected by the quakes, as well as many others in northern Syria.
Akar also condemned the recent attack on the Muslim holy book, the Quran, and a Turkish flag in Denmark.
"The attack on our flag and holy book is a great example of barbarism, despicable and disgusting behavior. This is absolutely a crime against humanity and hate. We can never accept that," he said.
Recent months have seen several acts of Quran burning, or attempts to do so, by Islamophobic figures or groups in northern Europe and Nordic countries.