Turkey will not 'abandon Syrian refugees'

2016-02-07 20:05
A Syrian woman makes enquiries regarding the possible opening of the closed Turkish border crossing with Syria. (Lefteris Pitarakis, AP)

A Syrian woman makes enquiries regarding the possible opening of the closed Turkish border crossing with Syria. (Lefteris Pitarakis, AP)

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Oncupinar - Turkey will continue to let in Syrian refugees instead of "abandoning them to their deaths", says the country's deputy premier as thousands of Syrians are trapped on its border after fleeing a regime assault.

"Turkey has reached the limit of its capacity to absorb the refugees," deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told CNN Turk television.

"But in the end, these people have nowhere else to go. Either they will die beneath the bombings... or we will open our borders."

"We're not in a position to tell them not to come. If we do, we would be abandoning them to their deaths."

Open its gates

Tens of thousands of Syrians, mostly women and children, have fled toward the Turkish border from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo since Friday to escape a regime offensive backed by Russian air strikes.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said Turkey was ready to open its gates to Syrian refugees "if necessary.

"If they reached our door and have no other choice, if necessary, we have to and will let our brothers in," he told reporters on his plane returning from Senegal on Saturday.

The governor of Turkey's Kilis border province, Suleyman Tapsiz, said on Saturday that Turkey - already home to around 2.7 million Syrians according to the latest government figures - was taking care of between 30 000 and 35 000 refugees who had gathered around the Syrian city of Azaz in the space of 48 hours.

Delivered food

Turkey's Oncupinar border crossing, which faces Bab al-Salama inside Syria, remained closed to thousands of refugees gathered there for a third day, a report said.

They braved cold and rain as Turkish aid trucks delivered food inside Syria.

The European Union on Saturday said it was Ankara's international obligations to keep its frontiers open to refugees while pressing the Turkish government to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe.
Read more on:    eu  |  russia  |  turkey  |  syria conflict

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