Turkey bans Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis from flying to Belarus

Turkey bans Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis from flying to Belarus

Turkey bans Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis from flying to Belarus

Ankara on Nov. 12 banned citizens of Syria, Iraq and Yemen from flying from Turkish airports to Belarus because of the refugee crisis at the former Soviet country’s border with Poland.

"Due to the problem of illegal border crossings between the European Union and Belarus, it has been decided that the citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen who want to travel to Belarus from Turkish airports will not be allowed to buy tickets and to board until further notice," the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.

The decision came as tensions between Belarus and the EU reached an all-time high due to the migrant crisis on the country's border with Poland.

Turkish Airlines flights to Belarus are in no way aiding in illegal immigration traffic, the flag carrier said on Tuesday.

"Our company makes sure to comply with all security measures and sensibilities in cooperation with international officials in all its flights operated to all corners of the world," said a company statement, rebuffing press claims that the air carrier was flying migrants to Belarus amid a migration crisis there.

Poland and the EU have accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of trying to retaliate against EU sanctions by deliberately inviting in and directing migrants towards the Polish border.

NATO and the EU consider Minsk's behavior to be an effort to destabilize and undermine security in European countries through non-military means.

According to estimates from last month, over 6,000 migrants, mostly from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, tried to enter the EU via the Belarus-EU border, up sharply from just 150 last year.

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