Syrian forces near Turkish border, as around 30,000 Syrians mass at border
CİHAN photoSyrian army troops recaptured a new village north of Aleppo on Feb. 8, bringing troops and allied militiamen to within a few kilometers of the Turkish border, while around 30,000 Syrians have massed at the Turkish-Syrian border due to a major Russian-backed offensive in the area, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said.
Syrian state-run news agency SANA said army troops took control of the village of Kfeen in the northern countryside of Aleppo “after wiping out the last group of terrorists there.”
Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV and the pro-Syrian, Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen station also reported Kfeen’s capture and aired live footage from the village.
The capture of Kfeen brought troops to about five kilometers from the town of Tel Rifaat, and about 30 kilometers from the Turkish border – the closest point to the Turkish border reached by government forces since they lost the Mannagh air base in mid-2013.
The government offensive around the city of Aleppo has sent tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing toward the border with Turkey, which remained closed for a fourth day on Feb. 8.
Davutoğlu said that around 30,000 Syrians had massed at the border with northwestern Syria.
Turkey will admit the almost 30,000 people fleeing war-torn Syria who have amassed at the border “when necessary,” Davutoğlu said, adding that Russia’s air assault should not be tolerated with the idea that Turkey will accept the refugees.
“Obviously, as always, we will provide for our Syrian brothers and accept them when necessary,” Davutoğlu said Feb. 8, during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Ankara.
But he warned: “No one should assume that just because Turkey is taking in all the refugees that it should be expected to shoulder the refugee issue alone.”
Davutoğlu said Syrian regime forces, with the support of foreign fighters especially from Lebanon and Iran, had cut the corridor between Turkey and Aleppo in such a way that they block humanitarian aid from reaching the region.
“There is an attempt to take Aleppo under a de facto siege. We are on the verge of a new and great humanitarian tragedy for the millions of Syrians who live in and around Aleppo,” said Davutoğlu.
“All of these developments show how insincere and far apart Russia and other forces which support the [Syrian] regime are from peace,” said Davutoğlu.
Merkel said she was “not just appalled but horrified” by the suffering caused by Russian bombing in Syria.
Merkel said Turkey and Germany would push at the United Nations for everyone to keep to a U.N. resolution passed in December 2015 that calls on all sides to halt without delay attacks on the civilian population.
“We have been, in the past few days, not just appalled but horrified by what has been caused in the way of human suffering for tens of thousands of people by bombing – primarily from the Russian side,” she said.
“Under such circumstances, it’s hard for peace talks to take place, and so this situation must be brought to an end quickly,” Merkel said.