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Erdogan warns Europeans once again of Syrian refugees' flow

KOCAELI, TURKEY - DECEMBER 22: President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during the ceremonies of New Type Submarine Project at Golcuk Naval Shipyard Command in Kocaeli, Turkey on December 22, 2019. ( Emrah Yorulmaz - Anadolu Agency )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned European countries that Turkey will not face the flow of a new wave of Syrian refugees alone, particularly those fleeing their country with the intensification of fighting in Idlib, the governorate controlled by jihadi factions and over which the Syrian regime is trying to regain control.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled since 16 December towards the Turkish borders to escape the increasing airstrikes launched by the regime forces and its Russian ally on Maarat Al-Numan, according to Arab48.

"Turkey cannot welcome a new wave of Syrian refugees," said Erdoğan during an award ceremony in Istanbul, pointing out that more than 80,000 Syrians, out of three million people living in Idlib Governorate, fled towards areas near the Turkish border.

Read: 'Turkey cannot bear another refugee influx by itself'

He added that if the number of these displaced people increases, "Turkey will not bear this burden alone," warning that "the negative effects of this pressure, which we are going through, will affect all European countries, starting with Greece."

In addition to his threat to the Europeans to open the borders of his country to Syrian refugees to flow to their countries, as happened in 2015 when Europe was forced to open its doors to one million refugees, Erdoğan said that a Turkish delegation will visit Moscow on Monday, in order to hold talks in an attempt to stop the raids on Idlib.

The Turkish President had warned that his country might allow millions of Syrian refugees to travel to Europe if the international community does not make more efforts to support them.

Erdoğan's government says that Turkey currently hosts about five million refugees, including about 3.7 million Syrians, who have fled the war that has been tearing their country apart since 2011.

Al-Marsad organisation said it had monitored "a massacre carried out by Russian warplanes, targeting a gathering of IDPs on the outskirts of the city of Maarat Al-Numan in the southern side of Idlib countryside, where seven citizens were killed, as a result of this targeting, while trying to move to other areas."

Read: Turk named Person of Year for supporting Palestine

Anadolu Agency said on Sunday that during the past two days, at least 25,000 civilians have fled from the Idlib area, in north-western Syria, to Turkey, while Syrian and Russian forces have intensified their shelling of the de-escalation zone in Idlib.

According to the director of the Syrian Response Coordinators, Muhammad Hallaj, the number of IDPs is not exactly known, due to the continued air and ground attacks on Idlib.

Hallaj explained that the team was able to monitor the displacement of at least 25,000 civilians, during the past two days, as a result of attacks by the regime forces, in addition to Russian and pro-Iran groups, pointing out that the largest displacement takes place in residential areas south of Idlib, especially the countryside of Maarat Al-Numan.

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