Turkey’s National Defense Ministry on Friday rejected allegations that the country’s armed forces had blocked the return of residents to three settlements in Syria’s northern Raqqa province.

Some foreign media outlets claimed that Turkish soldiers blocked entry points to — Al Muallaq, Jahbel and Seida — in Raqqa.

The areas were cleared of the PKK/YPG terror group during Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring, the ministry said in a statement.

“There are many mines and IEDs previously placed by terror group in Seida, Al Muallaq and Jahbel settlements within the borders of Operation Peace Spring area. This situation poses a major problem in terms of the security of life and property of the civilian population,” it added.

Once this region is cleared, the safe return of civilians will be ensured.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian branch.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan​​​​​​​

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