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Erdoğan says Syria’s Idlib province suitable only for Arabs because it’s a desert

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Syria’s Idlib province is only suitable for Arabs, not Kurds, because it’s a desert, the Birgün daily reported on Friday.

“Russia, Turkey and Iran made an agreement at Astana. If that was not the case, Idlib would be a bloodbath. Some 400,000 of its population was about to march on our border. When the conflict stopped, the migration stopped as well,” Erdoğan told reporters on a TV program aired on the country’s public broadcaster.

“Idlib is a vast area. What’s important is keeping [human] resources intact in this land. For this purpose, the most appropriate people are the Arabs. The lifestyle of the Kurds doesn’t fit in here,” Erdoğan said, and when asked about the reason, he added: “Because it’s a desert.”

One of Turkey’s main arguments for the fight against the Kurds in northern Syria is that that region belongs to the Arabs.

Ankara accuses the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) of setting up minority rule in predominantly Arab cities and towns.

Turkey has launched three military operations into northern Syria to push the YPG militia away from its borders since 2016. The latest, Operation Peace Spring, was halted after meetings with US and Russian leaders.

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