Turkey agrees to let in Syrian Refugees
Oncupinar (Turkey) – Turkey said it was ready “if necessary” to let in tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing a major Russian-backed regime offensive, as aid agencies warned Sunday of a “desperate” situation.
Thousands of people, including many women and children, are stranded at the Turkish border after an exodus triggered by fierce fighting near Syria’s second city Aleppo.
“If they reached our door and have no other choice, if necessary, we have to and will let our brothers in,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.
Turkey’s Oncupinar border crossing, which faces the Bab al-Salama frontier post inside Syria, remained closed Sunday to thousands of refugees gathered there for a third day,They waited desperately for the moment the gate will open, as Turkish aid trucks delivered food inside Syria.
Carrying what few belongings they still have, Syrians queued up in the cold and rain in squalid camps near the Turkish border, waiting for tents being distributed by aid agencies.
The European Union on Saturday said it was Ankara’s international obligations to keep its frontiers open to refugees, while also pressing the Turkish government to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe.
A Turkish official said the Oncupinar crossing was “open for emergency situations”.
“Seven injured were taken to Turkey on Friday and one on Saturday for treatment at Turkish hospitals,” he said.
The governor of the Turkish border province of Kilis, Suleyman Tapsiz, said Saturday that Turkey — already home to 2-2.5 million Syrians — was taking care of 30-35,000 refugees who had gathered around the nearby Syrian city of Azaz.
Another 70,000 may head for the frontier if Russian air strikes and Syrian regime military advances continued in Aleppo, he added.