Turkmens escape to Turkey from Russian, al-Assad fire in Syria
DHA PhotoSome 1,635 migrants, mainly women, children and elderly people, crossed into Turkey on Jan. 29 and 30 from Syria, after leaving their camp across the border due to rising security risks, as the Russian and Bashar al-Assad forces’ bombardment of Turkmen villages continued.
The group had taken refuge in the Turkish-built Yamadi camp after shelling by the regime and allied Russian forces’ intensified in the Bayırbucak region of northwestern Syria, according to a statement by the Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). However, they were forced to cross the border into the Yayladağı district of Turkey’s southeastern Hatay province as the bombing intensified.
The decision to evacuate Yamadi came as Abdurrahman Mustafa, the president of the Syrian Turkmen Assembly, said it would be necessary, one day after the Obin camp, 3 kilometers southeast of Yamadi, was bombarded in an aerial campaign.
“The al-Assad forces with Russia’s support are marching toward Yamadi after the fall of Rabia. They are eight kilometers from the camp on the zero point of the border. We started to evacuate the camp [Yamadi] last night [Jan. 28]. [People] are expected to arrive in Turkey in groups consisting of 500-600 people. There are mostly Turkmen 20,000 people in the camp. We talked with AFAD and Red Crescent representatives at the beginning of the week and they are expanding the camp in Güveççi village in Yayladağı,” Mustafa said, adding that the Obin camp was bombarded early on Jan. 29.
“They bombarded the [Obin] camp last October too. There are reportedly many dead and wounded [from this latest bombardment]. We have also learned that the regime has started to capture the Turkmen village of Kelez in the Kürtdağı region. In the Bayırbucak region, Turkmens hold only two villages out of 40 Turkmen villages,” Mustafa said.
He added that the Russians are using “the same tactics as Israel uses in Gaza,” firing cluster bombs at the Turkmen villages of Sallur, Kelez and Alçabayır. “Turkmen troops are continuing their resistance in this region but there is no way that civilians can live here anymore,” he stated.
In drone images obtained by Anadolu Agency, damaged houses and sanctuaries in the Turkmen villages of Çümeren and Sallur can be seen, as well as vehicles rendered unusable due to shrapnel pieces.
Meanwhile, AFAD has started taking finger prints of the Turkmens and Arabs arriving at the Arfalı point opened on the Yayladağı border gate, where their health checks and registration process is being completed. The refugees will be accommodated in AFAD centers in Hatay, Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa upon the completion of their biometric registration processes.
A mobile coordination center, mobile catering vehicles and six ambulances have also been sent to the area.
A mass migration management system, which was implemented in Turkey amid the large flow of Kurdish and Arab Syrians fleeing the town of Kobane in 2014 has recently been relaunched, AFAD also stated.
As part of the measures, some 202 personnel have been tasked by AFAD, the Health Ministry, the Gendarmerie General Command, the Security General Directorate, the Turkish Red Crescent and the Interior Ministry’s Directorate of General Migration Management.
The Turkmens are ethnic kin of the Turks and Turkey has been particularly angered by Russian jets’ targeting of them in Syria. It has warned that Russia’s actions in Syria risk exacerbating the refugee crisis, shortly after Ankara struck a deal with the EU to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.
Several thousand people, including Syrian Arabs waiting at the border, will be allowed into Turkey in the coming days, Reuters quoted local activists as saying.
“The situation isn’t good there at all. Russia is hitting very hard. They have destroyed everything,” Muhammed Mustafa, an elderly man among those arriving in Turkey, told Reuters.