Ankara announced Tuesday that it will be establishing refugee camps for Syrians who have fled Northern Idlib due to the fierce fighting between Turkish forces, backed by some Syrian rebels, and Kurdish troops.

Makeshift Syrian refugee camp near the Golan Heights

Makeshift Syrian refugee camp near the Golan Heights Photo Credit: Basel Awidat/Flash90

The Turkish government has announced it will be setting up camps for 170,000 displaced Syrians who have been forced out of their homes in Northern Idlib as part of recent battles between Turkish forces and their Syrian allies on one side and the Kurdish fighters on the other side. Turkey deems the YPG, Syria’s main Kurdish military unit, a terrorist group and links them to pro-Kurdish separatist movements in southeastern Turkey. Thousands of people have fled into the Turkish-controlled territory, seen as safer than areas where pro-Assad forces lie or ISIS remnants may remain behind.

The earlier Turkish offensive, termed Operation Euphrates Shield, was meant to target both Islamic State and Kurdish militants that Turkey viewed as a threat to its internal security. Turkey has been in a complex relationship with the Syrian government, which has allowed it to maintain observation points across the Syrian border and even within Syria but has strongly objected to Turkey’s support of anti-Assad rebels.

Recently, the Syrian government openly aided the Kurds, who are in open rebellion against it, over the Turkish forces in order to “preserve the unity of the Syrian people.” Kurdish troops have gone far enough to make a deal with the government on how to fight the Turkish forces.

Turkey’s initiative today would attempt to bring many of those displaced into refugee camps near its borders as the Turkish military continues to set up positions near Afrin, Idlib and Aleppo to monitor activities both from the Syrian government and Kurdish fighters, as well as militia groups in the region. The region remains one of the few remaining bastions of rebel-held territories in Syria as President Bashar Al Assad’s forces are attempting to bring the rest of the country under his control.