September 16, 2019 / 5:32 PM / a month ago

Erdogan says up to 3 million Syrian refugees can return to 'safe zone' if it extended

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a joint news conference with his counterparts Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Vladimir Putin of Russia in Ankara, Turkey, September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that up to three million Syrian refugees can return to a planned “safe zone” in northern Syria if it is extended from Turkey’s border to Deir al Zor and Raqqa, after talks with his Russian and Iranian counterparts.

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara after talks for a lasting truce in Syria with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani, Erdogan said the summit had eliminated obstacles to the formation of a constitutional committee, adding that the committee would begin working soon.

Erdogan also said that support for militant groups “under the pretense of battling” Islamic State was unacceptable, and added that the real threat in Syria was the Kurdish YPG militia.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu, Editing by Franklin Paul

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