05:07 GMT03 April 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Turkish authorities are pushing about 130,000 refugees towards the Greek border, forcing them to leave the country, the commander of the Russian centre for Syrian reconciliation said Tuesday.

    "Currently, the authorities of the Republic of Turkey are moving about 130,000 refugees, who were previously in temporary camps, towards the Greek border. Two-thirds of them are not Syrian citizens. They are Afghans, Iraqis, African citizens. Turkey is pushing these people into the Greek Republic," Rear Admiral Oleg Zhuravlev said at a daily briefing.

    Zhuravlev also said that some 385,000 people were forced to flee their homes in northern Syria due to the Turkish invasion of Kurdish regions.

    "As a result of the Turkish occupation of the Afrin zone, up to 250,000 residents, mainly Kurds, were forced to leave this territory. And during the Turkish operation Peace Spring, up to 135,000 people were forced to leave territories where they traditionally reside."

    Zhuravlev added that no more than 35,000 people have left Syria for Turkey since the beginning of the year, contradicting Turkish claims that it is being inundated by refugees.

    "During this period, objective monitoring equipment has registered and confirmed by local residents that no more than 35,000 people have left the war zones and moved onto the territory of Turkey," Zhuravlev said.

    Additionally, he said that some of those were families of militants from Idlib.

    Criticism of Russia and the Syrian Government 'Untenable'

    The Turkish and the US criticism of Russia and the Syrian government for allegedly creating a "humanitarian crisis" amid the situation in Syria’s Idlib is untenable, Zhuravlev said.

    "Numerous statements and criticism of the leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic and Russia by representatives of Turkey, European countries and the United States about the alleged million-refugee flows and the ‘humanitarian crisis’ as a result of the deteriorating situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone are untenable," he told reporters.

    According to him, the Russian centre for Syrian reconciliation has been continuously monitoring the humanitarian situation in the northwestern regions of the country over the past few years.

    Migrants run from riot police while they are pushed to go back to Moria camp from the port of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos hoping to get on a ferry to Athens on March 3, 2020.
    © AFP 2020 / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI
    Migrants run from riot police while they are pushed to go back to Moria camp from the port of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos hoping to get on a ferry to Athens on March 3, 2020.

    Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that "millions of refugees" will soon be moving towards Turkey's borders with the EU, adding that the West must share the responsibility for refugees. Greece strengthened its security on the border by deploying riot police who have been using tear gas to prevent migrants from entering. 

    On Tuesday, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that a Frontex rapid intervention team would be deployed to the Greek border to ensure order in the area. She also said that the bloc would allocate €700 million, half of it immediately, to help manage the refugee situation on the Turkey-Greece border. 

    Tags:
    Russia, refugees, Greece, Syria, Turkey
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