Thousands of Syrians refugees are returning home from Turkey just in time to celebrate a major Muslim holiday amid significantly improved security, provided to a great extent by the Russian military and the reconciliation efforts within the de-escalation zones.
At the start of the year, Syria’s President Bashar Assad estimated that some 4.8 million Syrian refugees have fled the country during the ongoing civil war. Turkey has welcomed almost three million Syrians since the conflict broke out in 2011.
For the past two weeks, those who have been displaced have been taking advantage of the newly created stability in Syria to return home to visit loved ones in time for Kurban Bayram (Feast of the Sacrifice, also known as Eid al-Adha) celebrations which begin on August 31.
The proposal to establish four de-escalation zones was signed by Russia, Iran and Turkey, with the approval of the Syrian government in the Kazakh capital, Astana in May. The UN has welcomed the initiative. All four designated zones are areas controlled by armed rebels who have been under pressure from the government forces’ advance.
Under the terms of the ceasefire agreement, they are to be monitored by the Astana signatories, while Russia retains the right to control the airspace above them, without engaging in air raids. ISIS and Nusra linked terrorist cells are not included in the ceasefire agreement.