Tens of thousands of Syrians who fled their country’s civil war to Turkey are returning home temporarily to Syria to celebrate a major Muslim holiday, Turkish officials said Monday.
Almost three million Syrians have taken refuge in Turkey since the conflict broke out in 2011, the vast majority living in big cities rather than in camps.
But a relative stability has descended on some areas in northwest Syria following a Turkish military operation against jihadists and a ceasefire backed by Ankara and Moscow earlier this year.
The authorities in Turkey’s southern province of Kilis bordering Syria have put in place a special system whereby Syrians can go home for the Feast of the Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha in Arabic, Kurban Bayrami in Turkish) and return to Turkey afterwards.
After uploading details on a special Internet site and registering, they can leave Turkish territory through the Oncupinar border gate until Wednesday and then must return by October 15.
Long lines of Syrian families, laden with baggage, were queueing Monday to cross through Oncupinar in time for the start of the holidays…