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Turkey Says No Room for More Displaced from Syria's Idlib

Turkey Says No Room for More Displaced from Syria's Idlib

Sunday, 23 June, 2019 - 12:00
People walk near rubble of damaged buildings in the city of Idlib, Syria May 27, 2019. (Reuters)
Ankara - Saeed Abdul Razek
Head of Turkish Interior Ministry's migration management department said his country is closely monitoring developments in Idlib and areas in Syria’s northwest.

Abdullah Ayaz stressed that Turkey will not be able to receive more refugees flowing into Turkish territory if a major battle erupts in the city of Idlib between regime forces and the armed opposition factions.

“Turkey’s capacity to host a new wave of migrants has almost reached its limits,” Ayaz told a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean in Ankara earlier this week.

It is critical to find a political solution for the conflict in Idlib and guarantee continuation of political talks on the city, Ayaz stressed.

He said that the number of refugees in Turkey rose from 4.2 million in 2017 to 4.9 million, including 3.6 million Syrians, pointing out that his country has not received sufficient support from Europe or the international community in this regard.

Idlib, the opposition stronghold in northwestern Syria, could become the scene of the last chapter of the Syrian war that has been ongoing for eight years now, and it may perhaps be the bloodiest battle between the regime and opposition forces.

The United Nations says the result could be a humanitarian catastrophe and estimates that there are around three million civilians in Idlib, including one million children.

More than 40 percent of these civilians had arrived from other parts of the country, from areas that were under the opposition control and later became under that of the regime.

Turkey fears the fighting launched on April 26 in southern Idlib could escalate.

It has been in close contact with Russia and Iran, both of which are guarantor states along with Turkey and part of the Astana talks in which de-escalation zones in Idlib were specified.

Turkey has also been seeking to maintain the Sochi agreement signed with Russia on September 17, 2018 on the establishment of a demilitarized buffer zone between regime and opposition forces in Idlib.

The regime has been attacking southern Idlib since April, supported by Russia.

The latter, for its part, accuses Turkey of failing to meet its obligations to expel militant groups from the region under the agreement.

Ankara, however, has been calling on Moscow and Tehran to pressure the regime to stop its attacks that have hit some Turkish military observation points in the de-escalation zones.

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