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Turkish operation in Syria can lead to ‘reverse migration’ of militants - Russian minister

As a result of Turkish army’s actions eight refugee camps and twelve prisons for foreign militants were left without guard, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said

BEIJING, October 21. /TASS/. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has warned of a possible ‘reverse migration’ of militants from Syria following an operation launched by Turkey in north Syria.

"As a result of Turkish army’s actions eight refugee camps and twelve prisons for foreign militants were left without guard. This can lead to a so-called reverse migration of terrorists back to their home countries," he told a plenary session of the Xiangshan Forum on security on Monday.

According to the minister, "the need to consolidate efforts of the whole international community to counter challenges posed by terrorists, their ideology and propaganda is evident." "The Russian Defense Ministry has accumulated enormous expertise in this sphere, which we are willing to share with our partners in Asia Pacific," Shoigu added.

The minister also emphasized that the Islamic State terrorist organization "has greatly expanded its presence in Southeastern Asia" following its defeat in Syria, while IS leaders announce that territories of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and a part of Thailand have been included in its "caliphate". "Militants who fought in Syria and are returning to their home countries are used as a vanguard," he said.

At the same time, Shoigu underlined that "a few years ago it was thought that terrorism does not pose a significant threat to Asia Pacific countries."

Turkish operation

On October 9, Ankara launched a new military operation in northern Syria dubbed Peace Spring, which began with airstrikes on positions of Kurdish units. The objective is to create a buffer zone in northern Syria where Syrians refugees could return, Ankara claims. The buffer zone will also establish a security belt along the Turkish border. The Syrian SANA news agency branded the operation as aggression, while the international community condemned Ankara’s actions.

On October 17, the United States and Turkey reached an agreement to pause the Peace Spring operation. Turkey consented to a 120-hour ceasefire so that Kurdish units making up the coalition of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) could leave the areas of the border security zone that Ankara is attempting to create.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry published data showing that almost 15,000 people are incarcerated in prisons located in Kurdish-controlled regions, while more than 100,000 people reside in refugee camps there.