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Turkey Warns of New Migration Wave from Idlib Offensive

Turkey Warns of New Migration Wave from Idlib Offensive

Friday, 12 January, 2018 - 19:15
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. (AP)

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim warned on Friday that the offensive against Syria’s rebel-held Idlib will create a new migration wave, calling on Russia and Iran to rein in the Syrian regime offensive near Turkey’s southern border.

“Carrying out increased attacks in Idlib will cause new migration waves and victimization there. This is very dangerous and wrong,” Yildirim told reporters after Friday prayers.

“It is very wrong for the regime to launch an offensive, without differentiating civilians, in order to gain land ... while the initiative by Turkey, Russia and Iran on a lasting peace in Syria has made progress,” Yildirim said.

The offensive supported by Iran-backed forces has gathered pace and displaced tens of thousands of people since November, according to the United Nations.

Already host to 3 million refugees from the six-year-old conflict, Turkey fears a further influx across its border from Idlib. The northwestern province is the largest region still held by rebels driven out of other strongholds in Syria, and is home to more than 2 million people, many in need of aid.

Turkey has been deploying forces inside northern Idlib and setting up bases there after agreeing with Iran and Russia to establish a “de-escalation zone” in Idlib and nearby areas.

Russia aims to convene a Syria peace congress later this month, though it is not yet clear who will attend.

Earlier on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had discussed the situation in Syria with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif.

On Thursday, rebels launched a counter attack against regime forces and their allies in Idlib province.

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