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Special agency may be set up to assist refugees returning from Syria's north — Shoigu

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that "many legal issues emerge that are not regulated by international law in any way"

SOCHI, October 22. /TASS/. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu does not rule out that a special agency will be set up to deal with returning refugees from northeastern Syria.

"Many legal issues emerge that are not regulated by international law in any way. Of course, a special agency will need to be set up, or the United Nations Organization should closely work on this issue," Shoigu told reporters after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi.

According to Russian military, there are seven prisons in the so-called Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria with supporters of Islamic State (IS, terrorist organization banned in Russia) and at least eight camps for internally displaced persons, including militants' wives and children. According to the UN, there may be around 120,000 people in prisons and camps in Syria. Among prisoners and internally displaced persons are representatives of 72 nationalities from 36 countries. Those places are guarded by Syrian Democratic Forces supported by the United States.

Shoigu noted that in the 48 hours, guards have been dismissed, and the remaining 500 people left the area. "I won't say that all those people are definitely terrorists," the Russian defense minister added noting that measures are currently taken "by those who control these territories" to return refugees.

"There is now an issue of returning them to their countries. This issue is much more complicated than it seems and goes beyond the statement on Twitter: 'Come and take them'," Shoigu said. "Who will they return as? As someone who visited a foreign country as a tourist? Or as someone who participated in combat?" he wondered.

The defense minister said that evidence is needed to prove that those people were members of terrorist organizations. "Who will work on this? There are many questions here, and I will not discuss them all in detail, but the situation is this way now," he concluded.