Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that his country is ill-equipped to handle a wave of Syrian migrants from Idlib, and warned that Europe will feel its impact next, unless the bombing of Idlib stops.
Speaking at an awards ceremony in Istanbul on Sunday, Erdogan said that Turkey “will not bear the burden alone” of the 80,000 migrants currently marching toward its borders from Idlib, in north-western Syria.
The Turkish leader added that Europe will see a repeat of the 2015 migrant crisis – which saw more than a million migrants enter Europe in less than a year – if its leaders do not intervene to stop violence in the region. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is currently attempting to recapture Idlib, with Russian support, from the remains of Islamic state.
Erdogan said he is doing everything possible to work with Moscow to stop the attacks on Idlib, and announced that a Turkish delegation will fly to the Russian capital on Monday for talks aimed at ending the violence.
Turkey is currently hosting more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, and past negotiations with European leaders have seen Erdogan threatening to release them into the continent. Most recently, he promised to “open the gates” should European leaders label his military operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria an ‘occupation’.
Erdogan’s operation against the Kurds is aimed at the creation of a ‘safe zone’ inside the Syrian border for the resettlement of some of the 3.6 million refugees currently in Turkey. Under pressure to relieve the refugee burden, he has pledged to press ahead with establishing the safe zone – with or without international support.