Refugees head for EU as Turkey opens borders
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Refugees head for EU as Turkey opens borders

Orient Net
Date: 2020-02-28 13:51
Hundreds of Syrian refugees in Turkey have begun preparing to travel towards the country’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria after Ankara’s sudden decision to no longer impede their passage to Europe.

The move comes after an Assad airstrike on Thursday night in Syria’s Idlib province killed at least 33 Turkish soldiers.

Turkish police, coastguard and border security officials were ordered to stand down overnight on Thursday, Turkish officials briefed reporters.

Turkey often threatens to reopen the migrant route from the Middle East, which at its peak in 2015 saw thousands drown in the Mediterranean and a million people reach Greece and Italy, where many still live in miserable displacement camps.

Thursday’s decision, however, effectively reverses a 2016 deal Turkey struck with the EU to cut the numbers of migrants entering Europe. It appears to be calibrated to force the EU and Nato to support Ankara’s new military operation in Idlib.

Under the impression that the window to leave Turkey may be short-lived, some of the 3.6 million Syrians currently living in the country began to move quickly.

Turkish news agency Demirören showed footage of what it said was 300 people, including women and children, walking on highways and through forested land in north-west Turkey towards the EU border early on Friday. Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Moroccans were among those in the group, it said.

In Istanbul, the local Syrian community began organizing buses to take people from the city to the borders.

Turkish television also reported that migrants had gathered in the western Turkish coastal district of Ayvacık, in Çanakkale province, with the aim of travelling by boat to Lesbos island in Greece. The NTV channel showed scores of people walking through fields wearing backpacks and said the refugees had tried to cross the Kapıkule border into Bulgaria, but were not allowed through.

Greece had boosted border patrols on Friday, a government source said. An army source said around 300 people had been spotted on the Turkish side of the border in the north-eastern Evros region but that the numbers were “not out of the ordinary”.



In a series of tweets, Altun accused Assad of “conducting ethnic cleansing” and seeking to drive millions of Syrians out of Idlib.

“These people will try to escape to Turkey and Europe. Already hosting close to 4 million refugees, we do not have the capacity and resources to allow entry to another million,” he wrote.

The international community voiced alarm over the latest violence in Idlib.

In a series of tweets, Altun accused Assad of “conducting ethnic cleansing” and seeking to drive millions of Syrians out of Idlib.

“These people will try to escape to Turkey and Europe. Already hosting close to 4 million refugees, we do not have the capacity and resources to allow entry to another million,” he wrote.

The international community voiced alarm over the latest violence in Idlib.

Thursday’s attack brought to 53 the number of Turkish security personnel killed in Idlib so far this month.

Based on The Guardian

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