Turkey President threatens to send in 3.6 million refugees to Europe
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to “open the gates” for Syrian refugees in his country to migrate to Europe if continent leaders call his military campaign in north-eastern Syria an “occupation”. Speaking at a meeting of lawmakers from his Justice and Development party today, he rebuked critics of the operation in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and said ISIS fighters who were captured in the military campaign would be imprisoned in Turkey if their home countries refused to claim them.
Turkish soldiers and their allies are clashing with the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in multiple border towns during the second day of an offensive that has caused tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes. There are also reports of mortar exchanges in Qamishli, and unconfirmed claims of civilian deaths and injuries across the border region that Turkey hopes to clear of SDF forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human rights have said that at least 23 SDF fighters and eight civilians, two of them SDF administrators were killed. Humanitarian group Kurdish Red Crescent said 11 civilians had been killed so far in the fighting including an 11 year old boy in Qamishli.
Over 60,000 people have fled the area since the offensive began. The Turkish offensive was reportedly triggered by a call between Donald Trump and Erdogan, in which, the Turks claim the US President handled over leadership of the campaign against ISIS in Syria to Ankara.
In a press conference, Trump backed his decision of pulling American troops from Syrian borders. He said Turks and Kurds “have been fighting each other for centuries.” Trump added, “They didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy… but they’re there to help us with their land.”