More than 300,000 Syrians take refuge near Turkish border – interior minister

Some 312,000 Syrians have moved to nine Turkish-run camps in northern Syria since Dec. 1, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Monday.

Seventy six percent of the people in the camps, some 20 km from the Turkish border in Syria’s Idlib province, are women and children, the minister said.

A ceasefire announced on Friday has allowed relief for people in the province, Soylu said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said this month that up to 250,000 people from Idlib were fleeing fighting and moving towards the Turkish border.  

Idlib’s population is currently pushing 4 million, up from 1.5 million people before the Syrian conflict began in 2011. Civilians, as well as government opponents who were defeated elsewhere in the country, have moved into the province.

The Turkish government made a deal with Russia in September 2018 to establish a de-escalation zone in Idlib, hoping to prevent another wave of refugees to add to the 3.6 million Syrians already in the country.

But the Syrian government, with air support from Russia, has intensified attacks on the province since April last year, maintaining that Turkey has failed to keep its promise of clearing Idlib of jihadist groups.