MASHHAD RUHIN, SYRIA (AFP) – Turkiye vowed on Sunday to complete construction of 100,000 houses in war-torn Syria, as Ankara pushes to settle Syrian refugees who fled more than a decade of fighting ahead of elections.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, speaking on Sunday on a visit to open 600 basic homes in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib region, said 75,000 houses had been constructed in the past two years.
“We will be completing 100,000… houses by the end of the year,” Soylu said, at the ceremony in the newly-built settlement made up of rows of brick bungalows at Mashhad Ruhin.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said in recent months he wanted to encourage one million of the country’s 3.7 million Syrian refugees to return home by building them housing and providing basic infrastructure.
Ahead of Turkiye’s presidential elections next year, the presence of refugees has become a thorny political issue.
Syria’s civil began in 2011 with the regime’s brutal repression of peaceful protesters, and millions have been forced to flee, now displaced internally and abroad.
Ankara and militia forces it supports have seized swathes of territory along the Syrian border during several military operations since 2016.
Turkiye said it wants to create a “safe zone” along its border to stop Syrians displaced by war from crossing.