Turkey to establish refugee camps in nine regions of Idlib ahead of possible Afrin influx
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkey will establish camps for 170,000 displaced people in the Idlib province and the region of the Euphrates Shield Operation ahead of a possible refugee influx from Afrin, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a press conference on March 6.
The camps will be established in nine different regions including Azez, Elbil, Tugli, Teleffer, Naddah, Bardaklı and Maşad Rufi.
Turkish humanitarian agencies have long been planning to establish camp areas around Azaz as well as Idlib if large numbers of civilians head for the border seeking safety from the ongoing bombardment in Afrin.
Aksoy also said the Turkey-Iran-Russia trilateral summit aiming to discuss the Syrian crisis is set to be held in Istanbul in early April. The planned date is for April 4, a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Officials of the three countries will meet in Astana on March 16 for preparatory talks ahead of the summit, he added.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is scheduled to visit Russia on March 12-14 in order to attend at the Turkish-Russian joint strategic planning group meeting
Meanwhile, Turkey and the U.S. will kick off the first working group meetings of a bilateral mechanism that was agreed during a visit of State Secretary Rex Tillerson to Ankara last month. Frictions over the YPG and a number of other issues have poisoned relations between Ankara and Washington in recent months, prompting the two countries to decide to set up “working committees” to address problems.
Ankara will tell the U.S. authorities during meetings on March 8-9 that it expects Washington to take concrete steps on retrieving weapons provided to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), Aksoy said, adding that the presence of the Kurdish militants in the Manbij region will be among the topics discussed.
“We have clear expectations from the United States. We expect them to take back arms delivered to the PYD-YPG,” he said, noting that Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu will meet with his U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson in Washington on March 19.
Aksoy also slammed a recent Pentagon statement supporting a key YPG figure, known in Turkey as Ferhad Abdi Şahin, as “nonsense.”
“The Pentagon spokesman once again continued to speak nonsense,” he said, referring to Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning.
“You all are well aware that the PYD/YPG is a terrorist group … Solid evidence showing that the PYD/YPG is part of the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK has been put forward. I believe the Pentagon spokesman also knows this,” he said.
The rebuke came after Manning identified the YPG fighter as a “general” at a press conference.