December 18, 2019 / 10:33 AM / a month ago

Erdogan says world powers have not backed refugee 'safe zone' in Syria: NTV

FILE PHOTO: Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan leaves Downing Street after talks with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other heads of state, ahead of the NATO summit in Watford, in London, Britain December 3, 2019. Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool via REUTERS

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said world powers had not yet offered any support for his planned “safe zone” in northern Syria, where he intends to resettle a million Syrian refugees, broadcaster NTV reported on Wednesday.

Turkey has said the zone will let refugees camped out in its territory return safely to their own country, and help secure its border with Syria. But Western allies have criticized the Turkish military incursion in October which saw Ankara seize a large part of Syria’s north from Kurdish YPG militia.

“Not even the countries we regard as the most powerful and respected have come out yet in response to our call on the safe zone and said ‘we’re in’,” Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters in Geneva, where he attended the Global Forum on Refugees on Tuesday.

More than 600,000 refugees would voluntarily join around 371,000 already in the “peace zone”, he said on Tuesday.

“If we succeed in this, it will go down in history as an example. They will say, ‘Turkey established this city or cities for refugees’. This is really important for us. Our project is great,” he said.

Erdogan said Turkey had spent $40 billion hosting some 3.7 million Syrian refugees. He has repeatedly accused the European Union of failing to deliver about half the nearly 6 billion euros ($6.61 billion) it had promised to support the broader refugee work.

Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies launched its third offensive in northern Syria in October, targeting the U.S.-allied YPG militia, which had spearheaded the fight against Islamic State but which Ankara regards as a terrorist group.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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