Intense Border Fighting Has Turkey Rethink Refugee Policy

Turkey on Thursday said it was taking measures to limit the flow of Syrian refugees onto its territory after an influx of thousands more over the last days due to fighting between Kurds and jihadists.

Under an "open-door" policy championed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has taken in 1.8 million Syrian refugees since the conflict in Syria erupted in 2011.

A Turkish official told AFP that in the last week 7,000 refugees had fled to Turkey to escape the fighting and another 6,600 had joined them since Wednesday.

Kurdish forces are currently locked in bitter clashes with Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists for the area bordering Turkey.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus visited on Wednesday the Akcakale border crossing in southern Turkey, where the main influx has been concentrated.

"Turkey will not accept entries onto its territory from Syria except in case of a humanitarian tragedy," he said, quoted by local media.

However, the Turkish official told AFP that these measures did not put in question Turkey's open door-policy towards Syrian refugees.

"The restrictions formulated by the local authorities are temporary and local," the official said.

Kurtulmus also reaffirmed the government's anger against EU countries that have only accepted a handful of refugees while Turkey has taken the lion's share of the burden.

"These states mobilize when just five refugees arrive at their borders but continue to be mere spectators at the efforts employed by Turkey," he said.

The Kurdish forces aim to wrest control of Tel Abyad – opposite Akcakale - in order to free up passage from Kobane, on the Turkish frontier, to Qamishli which is close to the Iraqi border.

Formerly an ally of Damascus, Ankara broke off its relationship with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad as a 2011 uprising escalated from peaceful demonstrations to a bloody civil war.

The Turkish government said in April it has spent almost $5.5 billion to provide for Syrian refugees.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196612

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