Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 8, 2019. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV - AFP)

Turkey will return to Syria one million refugees in the first step, while two million more will follow, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Erdogan made this known in his address at the Turkic Council in Baku on Tuesday.

“With God’s help, we will within a very short period of time make our border stretching up to Iraq safe, and one million refugees will return (to Syria) as the first step.

“And two more million refugees as the second step,” he said.

The Turkish leader has already pledged to “open the door” for Syrian refugees if Ankara’s ongoing offensive in Syria’s north, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, is qualified as an invasion.

The Turkic Council in full, the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States, is an international organisation comprising some of the Turkic countries.

The member countries are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkey, with the remaining two Turkic states – Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – not currently official members of the council due to their neutral stance.

However, they are possible future members of the council.

The General Secretariat of the council is in Istanbul, Turkey.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency said on Tuesday that it had boosted aid in northeastern Syria as the Turkish offensive triggered another wave of civilians fleeing their homes over fear of hostilities.

On October 9, Turkey launched an offensive in northern Syria in a bid to create a “safe zone” along the border that would be free of Kurdish militias, whom it considers an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (banned by Ankara).

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