Turkey has transferred hundreds of people to the northeastern Syrian town of Tell Abyad from the Turkish-controlled Operation Euphrates Shield region, stunning many families displaced from the town that have been hoping to return to their villages in the area, which fell under Turkish control during a military operation in November 2019. A new round of population transfers is reportedly underway.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes no secret of his intention to uproot Kurdish self-rule in northern Syria and change the demographic character of the region, often reiterating Ankara’s plan to move up to two million refugees to a safe zone that is planned to be set up in the Operation Peace Spring region in the northeast. Addressing the UN General Assembly last year, Erdogan said Turkey initially planned to transfer up to one million refugees to the area by constructing 140 villages and 10 towns in the region. The second phase of the plan involves extending the resettlements to the town of Deir ez-Zor, which lies on the critical M-4 highway linking the country’s east and west.