Alwaght- Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan warned on Thursday Ankara will reopen the route for Syrian migrants into Europe if his government does not receive adequate international support for its plan resettle 1 million refugees in northern Syria, Reuters reported.
Turkey for years has been seeking a so-called safe zone in in northeastern Syria, where US-sponsored Kurdish militants are operating, but it lacks international support while Damascus also rejects the plan as a “blatant act of aggression” against Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkey that hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees has occupied parts of north Syria where it claims 350,000 Syrians have already returned.
“We are saying we should form such a safe zone that we, as Turkey, can build towns here in lieu of the tent cities here. Let’s carry them to the safe zones there,” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara.
“Give us logistical support and we can go build housing at 30 km depth in northern Syria. This way, we can provide them with humanitarian living conditions.”
“This either happens or otherwise we will have to open the gates,” Erdogan warned. “Either you will provide support, or excuse us, but we are not going to carry this weight alone. We have not been able to get help from the international community, namely the European Union.”
Under a deal agreed between the EU and Turkey in March 2016, Ankara agreed to stem the flow of migrants into Europe in return for billions of euros in aid.
However, the number of migrant arrivals in neighboring Greece spiked last month. A week ago more than a dozen migrant boats carrying 600 people arrived, the first simultaneous arrival of its kind in three years.
“Our goal is for at least one million of our Syrian brothers to return to the safe zone we will form along our 450km border,” Erdogan said.
On August 7, Turkey and the US reached an agreement on the establishment of a joint operation center in the northern part of Syria, in the wake of Ankara’s threats to launch an operation against Kurdish militants from the People's Protection Units (YPG) to push them away from the Turkish border.
Turkey views the YPG as the Syria branch of the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
The US has been arming and training Kurdish militants under the banner of helping them fight the terrorist group of ISIS, but Syria and several other countries see ulterior motives behind the deployment.
Turkey, a key US ally in the region, has repeatedly questioned Washington’s deployment of heavy weapons in Syria despite the defeat of ISIS in much of the Arab country.