Refugee camp in Syria on the Turkish border, 50 kilometers from Aleppo. Image: Wikimedia, screenshot from a video. Public domain
Turkey’s European Affairs Minister Bozkır justifies this by blaming Russia for airstrikes in the region, but they are currently flown by jets of the U.S.-led coalition
Syrian army offensive to take control of Aleppo has begun. Al-Masdar News, a publication close to the Damascus government, reports fighting inside the city, where enemy militias are nearly encircled, and military successes outside the city.
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has captured Al-Mallah, which is strategically important because of the road that connects the two countries "Castello Road", captured in battles with al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Mujahiddeen and Ahrar Al-Sham. The report mentions that the Syrian Kurdish YPG, in contrast to earlier battles in Aleppo, now seem to have turned their favor to the SAA.
Further north, near the Turkish border, at Azaz, there are reports of large-scale refugee movements. Drawn, according to information from the Guardian, by IS militias who opened fire on residents of villages. According to the report, IS militias attacked up to ten refugee camps on Thursday, urging residents to leave them and move towards areas under IS control.
The refugee camps were indeed abandoned, but a considerable part of the displaced people, about 5.000 made their way to the Turkish border. However, while trying to get to the other side of the border, they had been fired upon by Turkish soldiers.
This accusation is also made by the human rights organization Human Rights Watch. There is talk that fighting between the IS and other militias in recent days has reached up to 30.000 people had been displaced. Turkey, he said, had closed its border at Azaz and was blaming refugees who tried to enter the country anyway.
In an interview with the Austrian medium DiePresse.com, Turkey’s European Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir, who was visiting Vienna, confirmed that the border with Syria is completely closed to refugees. He justified this with Russian airstrikes.
THE PRESS.comIs it true that the Turkish border with Syria is completely closed to refugees?? Volkan BozkirWe did this because of the Russian airstrikes. Russia deliberately wanted to trigger a new wave of irregular migration. thepress.comDo you think that Russia wanted to destabilize Turkey and Europe?? Volkan Bozkir: Exactly. Taking revenge on Europe for sanctions – and on Turkey for the (downed Russian) fighter jet. They bombed specific places in order to trigger a new wave. So we have camps for 150.000 refugees built up on Syrian territory. The press.comBut they will not be allowed into Turkey? Volkan BozkirWe can not let them in, otherwise there will be new attacks on Aleppo. There are 3.5 million people there, who could form a new wave of refugees.
The latter auberation points to the fact that Turkey is also using fugitives as part of its military strategy. According to the Russian General Igor Konashenko, who denied yesterday the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet near Raqqa, all Russian aircraft were currently located at the Kheimim airport base. He did not tell TASS if there are any current operations.
It is known that Russia has promised the Syrian army support in the Aleppo offensive, and Russian planes are attacking positions of al-Nusra, which is excluded from the ceasefire, as well as IS targets and combat allies of al-Nusra, first of all Ahrar al-Sham. There is currently no reliable information on whether and in what form this has occurred in recent days.
However, reports said U.S.-led coalition aircraft had flown airstrikes in the area against IS positions. Hurriyet Daily News reports that fighter jets of the U.S.-led coalition attacked Syrian targets near the Turkish border near Kilis yesterday.
What is clear is that Turkey is using every means at its disposal against the YPG and is still working on its project of creating a "safe zone" in northern Syria, ostensibly to protect refugees, but in reality to expand its influence in Syria and fight the Kurds. Russia strictly against it.
According to Hurryet Daily News, Erdogan, during his visit to Washington, revived the old project of carrying out a training and arming program with Syrian militias together with the United States. Pentagon officials expressed readiness for a resumption of the. Quoting Col. Steve Warren, who signaled readiness to arm Turkmen militias. These are among the opponents of Russia.
Recently, in the context of arming Syrian militias, a "Plan B" CIA reports. If the ceasefire does not hold, the opposing militias of the Assad government will be rousted. So the al-Qaeda militia will be rewarded for continuing the war.
Plan B, as the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, was already discussed at a meeting at the White House at the end of February. Quoted from among U.S. Defense Secretary Carter, CIA chief John Brennan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford an announcement to consider taking action, "that are causing real pain to the Russians".