Syrian refugees returning to Syria sit aboard a bus in Istanbul, Turkey.|  Photo: EPA/ERDEM SAHIN
Syrian refugees returning to Syria sit aboard a bus in Istanbul, Turkey.| Photo: EPA/ERDEM SAHIN

The Turkish government has said that since 2016 a reported 329,000 Syrian refugees have returned to their home country from Turkey after cross-border military operations carried out by Ankara.

A reported 329,000 Syrian refugees have returned to Syria from Turkey since Ankara began military operations in Syria in 2016, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. The minister explained that the refugees have returned home thanks to the fact that "peace [is] ensured in Afrin,"  a former Kurdish enclave, "and in the area liberated [from ISIS] during the operation Euphrates Shield." 

Turkey hosts over 3.5 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. Soylu also reported that since the start of this year some 41,000 Afghan refugees have reached the country without regular documents. Half of them have already been repatriated, he said. 

240,000 displaced since the start of the offensive in northern Syria

A reported 240,000 civilians have been displaced in north-west Syria following a military offensive by the Syrian government and Russian forces in the area of Idlib under the control of anti-regime militias close to Turkey, the UN reports. The UN also said that in the first two weeks of May, 205 civilians were killed in the ongoing fighting. 

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has just released a report stating that Russian and Syrian government air raids hit a total of 20 healthcare facilities. The health centers served an estimated 200,000 people in the regions of Hama and Idlib, the World Health Organization was quoted as saying by OCHA. A reported 17 schools were also struck in air raids and artillery attacks by the warring sides, including anti-regime militias. 
 

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