The head of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria, Rear-Admiral Oleg Zhuravlev, said during a press conference on March 3 that Turkey was trying to push 130,000 refugees from Syria into Greece.
The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria is part of the Russian Defense Ministry.
“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,” Zhuravlev was quoted as saying by Sputnik news agency.
Zhuravlev also said that some 385,000 people were forced to flee their homes in northern Syria due Turkey’s 2018 and 2019 military offensives dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” and “Operation Peace Spring” respectively.
“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,” he said.
Zhuravlev added that no more than 35,000 people have crossed the border from conflict zones in Syria into Turkey since the beginning of the year, contradicting Turkey’s statement that it is being overflowed by refugees.
Zhuravlev also rejected statements by Turkey and Western countries about refugee flows and a humanitarian crisis in Syria’s Idlib region, describing the information as groundless.
“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 said.
Russia will not stop fighting terrorism to solve Europe’s migration crisis, says Lavrov
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on March 3 that Russia “will not stop fighting terrorism” in Idlib in order to solve Europe’s migration crisis.
Turkey last week said it would no longer stop Syrian refugees, displaced by the fighting in Idlib, from reaching Europe by land and sea.
A million people have been displaced since December near Turkey’s southern border, causing what the United Nations says may be the worst humanitarian crisis in nine years of war.