Turkey concerned over new wave of migrants from Aleppo
Deniz Sidour (L), a Syrian Kurd originally from Aleppo, and her eldest son Omar (R) welcome chlidren of their family as they are reunited after being seperated while crossing from Turkey to Greece, on March 2, 2016, in the port of Mytilene, on the Greek Aegean island of Lesbos - AFP photoRenewed fighting in Syria has been fueling Turkey’s concerns over a new wave of migrants from Aleppo, Turkish Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın has said, stressing that “neither the Syrian regime nor its supporters” have been acting in line with the U.N.’s priorities for achieving a political transition
Speaking at a press conference on April 11, İbrahim Kalın was reminded of Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halaki’s remarks during a visit to Moscow on April 10 when he said the Russian air force and Syrian army are preparing for a joint operation to “liberate” Aleppo.
Kalın initially referred to U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura’s announcement that the next round of peace talks in Geneva, due to begin on April 13, will focus on a political transition for Syria, where the civil war is now in its sixth year.
“So on one side you will reach an agreement with the entire international community’s contribution and support a ‘cessation of hostilities,’ but on the other side - in Aleppo, in Idlib and in other places - under the pretext of ‘We are fighting Daesh,’ you will resume operations? Of course it is not possible to accept this,” Kalın said, in an apparent reference to the “cessation of hostilities agreement” brokered by Russia and the U.S., which came under new strain as government and rebel forces clashed near Aleppo.
“Our concerns over a new wave of migration that may come from Aleppo are also continuing. If a comprehensive military operation is launched there, where will these people go? They will come to Turkey, which they see as the closest shelter. So perhaps a new humanitarian drama, a new refugee crisis, will occur,” he added.
“Of course, we don’t want this. But if it does happen, we have already taken the required measures. Thank God, we have the necessary capacity and infrastructure in this direction. We hope developments on the ground will not force such a consequence,” Kalın said.
The fragile ceasefire went into effect in February with the aim of paving the way for a resumption of talks to end the war. But it has been widely violated, with each side blaming the other for breaches. The fighting south of Aleppo marks the most significant challenge yet to the deal.
‘Turkey will not drop demand for ending Gaza blockade’
Meanwhile, Kalın also emphasized that Ankara will “not drop its demand” for an end to the blockade of Gaza in order to normalize relations with Israel.
He said no final agreement on a text for mending ties with Israel had yet been reached and talks would continue in the coming weeks. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on April 8 that Turkish and Israeli teams had made progress towards finalizing a deal in talks last week.
Meanwhile, according to a report prepared by Turkish security officials, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) is putting pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to force the Syrian government’s military and intelligence services from the northern cities of Hasakeh and Qamishli.
According to the report seen by daily Hürriyet, the PYD’s top leaders held talks with the governor of the Hasakeh province and demanded that the regime’s forces leave, or face forceful removal. The governor declined this offer and in return demanded that the checkpoints of the PYD’s military wing – the People’s Protection Units (YPG) – be removed.
According to the report, once this meeting did not produce a solution, the parties met again and the PYD withdrew its initial demand after a commander from the Syrian government forces said they would bomb the PYD’s Jazeera canton if any attacks were staged in Hasakeh and Qamishli.