As Russia’s “de-escalation plan” for the ongoing war in Syria takes effect, neighboring countries are keen to return massive Syrian refugee populations to the four safe zones that the plan establishes in the western part of the country. Key leaders in Lebanon and Jordan are continuing to advocate for return, and according to Turkish officials, Turkey has facilitated the return of at least 110,000 refugees to Syria as of June 20, 2017. Pushing for the premature return of refugees in Syria is incredibly dangerous and shortsighted. Russia’s proposal may well be the only path to a negotiated settlement between the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and the Sunni Arab opposition, but the safe zones are far from ready for the return of refugees.
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