Turkey’s soldiers are the only ones preventing the possible slaughter of millions of Syrians at the hands of the Bashar al-Assad regime’s forces, The New York Times said Tuesday.
“As an end to the decade-long Syrian civil war still confounds the world, Turkey has become the only international force on the ground protecting some five million displaced and vulnerable civilians," said an article titled "In Turkey’s Safe Zone in Syria, Security and Misery Go Hand in Hand."
The article, written by Carlotta Gall, the Istanbul bureau chief for The New York Times who covers Turkey for the newspaper, said "Turkey was widely criticized when it sent forces into Syria."
"But today, the Syrians they protect are glad the Turks are there, despite their hardship," said Gall.
She said it is Turkish troops "that stand between them and potential slaughter at the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and those of his Russian allies."
The report cited a once wealthy landowner from Damascus as saying that he wanted to stay in Turkey as long as Assad rules the war-torn country.
"We won’t go back to our villages until Turkey gives us protection. Without the Turks, we cannot survive," he said.
Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN estimates.