US envoy: 700,000 Syrians fleeing to Turkey

James Jeffrey, the U.S. special envoy for Syria, has said that 700,000 displaced people in northwest Syria were on the move towards the Turkish border after an offensive by Syrian government forces in the rebel-held province of Idlib. Regime forces on Jan. 28 recaptured most of Maaret al-Numan, a town of strategic importance in Syria's last major rebel-held bastion.

Duvar English / Reuters

Two hundred air strikes by Syrian government and Russian warplanes have hit Syria's Idlib region in the last three days, the U.S. special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey said on Jan. 30.

Jeffreytold a press briefing that some 700,000 displaced people in northwestSyria were "on the move towards the Turkish border, which wouldthen create an international crisis."

Jeffrey'scomments came after Syriangovernment forces entered the town of Maaratal-Numanin Idlib onJan. 28 in a significant advance for President Bashar al-Assad as heseeks to recapture rebel-held territory in the country’s northwest.

Assad’s campaign to regain Idlib province, the last rebel bastion in a nearly nine-year-long civil war, has sparked a new exodus of thousands of civilians towards the border with Turkey.

Maarat al-Numan, the second largest town in Idlib province, is located on the main highway linking the capital Damascus with Aleppo in northern Syria.

The renewed fighting comes despite a Jan. 12 ceasefire deal between Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides of the conflict.

Turkey already hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees and fears millions more could soon cross the frontier.

Topics Syria