"Turkey has accepted 3.5 million refugees from Syria. Apart from this we have refugees from other countries, making their total number in Turkey around 5 million. Turkey will not be able to cope with a new wave of migrants if they start coming from Syria," Erdogan said at a news conference in Ankara.
Erdogan added that Turkey acted as a buffer state for migrants coming into Europe from the Middle East and Africa.
He also called on the United States to fulfill its agreements with Ankara on the creation of a safe zone along Syria's northeastern border with Turkey and called on Washington to assist Turkey in its fight against the Kurdish People's Protection Units in the country's south, viewed by Ankara as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is listed as a terrorist organization.
Turkey hosts one of the largest migrant and refugee populations in the world. According to the International Organization for Migration, in late 2015, at the peak of Syria's civil war and the resulting refugee crisis, over 2.5 million people — primarily Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans — sought asylum within Turkey.
The Syrian civil war, which has continued since 2011, has brought about a total of over 5.6 million refugees and over 6 million internally displaced people. As the government forces have now regained control over most of the country’s territories, they strive to create favourable repatriation conditions for the refugees.
However, fighting continues in northwest Syria as government forces attempt to gain control over the militants' last stronghold in several provinces including Idlib, Hama and Latakia.