Over 13,000 Syrian refugees fled to Turkey in past week

Istanbul, (IANS/EFE) Around 13,500 Syrian refugees, mostly women, children and the elderly, fled to Turkey over the past week, escaping clashes near the border, the Hurriyet newspaper reported citing the Turkish government.

Turkish authorities allowed refugees to enter between June 3 and June 10 through the Akcakale border crossing in the southeastern Turkish province of Sanliurfa, foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said.

Syrian citizens have been fleeing US-led international coalition airstrikes and the advance of the Kurdish militias that have been fighting the Islamic State Sunni radical group for weeks in areas close to the Turkish border, Bilgic explained.

The spokesman denied what was said by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus on Thursday about changing the open-door policy for Syrian refugees.

During a visit to Sanliurfa, Kurtulmus had said that Turkey would not accept refugees from Syria given that “there is no humanitarian tragedy”.

Bilgic pointed out that Turkey has been welcoming Syrians fleeing President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and, as Kurtulmus said, it opens its doors to any humanitarian tragedies.

“There is no change in our policy,” he added.

There are 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, based on UN estimates, while, according to Kurtulmus, the number has reached two million.

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