Turkish soldiers help Syrian refugees as they cross into Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border, near the southeastern town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey. (Reuters)
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ANKARA – Turkey is concerned about the potential for a fresh wave of Syrian migrants arriving at its border as a result of Russian air strikes in Syria, the foreign ministry said on Friday.
A mass influx of refugees, many from Syria, has unleashed a crisis in the European Union. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, whose country hosts more than 2 million migrants, has accused the bloc of an inadequate response.
“With Russia’s air operations in recent weeks, there is naturally the potential for a wave of migrants to emerge. We are concerned about that,” foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic told reporters.
He also said NATO-member Turkey was continuing talks with the alliance and bilateral partners on enhancing its defense capabilities, including Patriot missile systems, but had not made a request for NATO to send military forces to Turkey.
The violation of Turkish air space by two Russian jets last weekend brought the Syrian conflict across NATO’s borders, but Bilgic said that, as yet, no Russian delegation had been sent to Ankara to provide information on the incursions.
Turkey’s NATO envoy urged the alliance on Thursday to keep up missile defenses along its Syrian border, and NATO’s secretary-general said he was prepared to send forces to defend Turkey’s border.