The Syrian government has appealed to fleeing refugees to return home. With over 5.6 million people fleeing violence in the war-torn country, Bashar al-Assad’s administration called on millions of displaced citizens to return to the country. Observers say the appeal reflects the government’s growing confidence that peace is finally returning to the country, NBC News reports.
While Syrian officials before, during interviews, have made appeals for refugees to come back home, last Tuesday’s broadcast was the first formal appeal broadcast on official media.
The government has been fighting an internal war that has lasted seven years, with millions of people displaced, dead or missing. Syria says the war is against a multi-faceted network of terrorist organizations bent on ousting Assad and claiming large territories of Syria for themselves. Assad’s government forces are backed by Russia and Iran.
Just recently, the Syrian government forces have reclaimed large areas close to Damascus, the nation’s capital, pushing terrorist networks back. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based agency monitoring the crisis in Syria says the government now controls more than 61 percent of the country. Just last year in early 2017, the government had controlled only 17 percent of the country.
Government forces also currently making strides with a large offensive in the south, an offensive the U.N. claims has displayed over 270,000 people.
The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that thousands of displayed people have already returned to their homes in the country and asked that other refugees who have fled the country do the same. Many displaced Syrians however express doubts about returning home, saying they have no homes to return to.
Thousands of homes have been destroyed in the prolonged warfare, with government facilities and schools leveled flat in many places. Refugees also fear being conscripted into the army if they return and some are afraid of vengeance from both sides in the war.