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FM: Turkey ‘most affected’ if Idlib crisis worsens

September 24, 2019 at 9:12 pm

Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu makes a speech as he attends a high-level meeting on the Syrian crisis, hosted by European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, at UN headquarters within the 74th session of UN General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York, United States on 24 September, 2019 [Cem Özdel/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday reiterated Ankara’s concerns in the wake of a likely refugee wave generating from Idlib, Syria, saying his country will be hit the hardest, reports Anadolu Agency.

Cavusoglu was speaking at a high-level meeting on the Syrian crisis at UN headquarters in New York.

“Just look at Idlib. A catastrophe is unfolding before our eyes,” said Cavusoglu. “Turkey will be the most affected country if the humanitarian crisis worsens.”

Turkey and Russia agreed on last September to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the de-escalation zone.

The area is currently inhabited by about 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands of people displaced in recent years by regime forces from cities and towns throughout the war-weary country.

READ: ‘Safe zone in Idlib nothing more than a name’

Turkey warned that further aggression by the Syrian regime and allies might trigger an influx of millions of refugees to Turkey, which currently hosts over 3.6 million displaced Syrians, making it the world’s top refugee-hosting country.

“The population of Idlib is almost the same as the number of Syrians in Turkey. We cannot handle a new wave,” said Cavusoglu and added that an international conference with Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq to discuss the return of Syrians is being planned to be held in Turkey.

“We hope that the EU will be a part of it. We will invite UNHCR and other relevant countries and international actors,” he said in reference to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Which county has the fate of Syria in it's hand? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Which county has the fate of Syria in it’s hand? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]