Feltman, giving his briefing Wednesday on the Middle East, stated that about 25,000 Syrians had recently sought refuge in Turkey during efforts to remove Daesh from Tal Abyad in Syria. He added that at least 2,000 refugees had reportedly returned to Syria.
“It is neither just nor possible to expect Turkey to continue to face the refugee pressures alone,” he said.
Feltman also announced that the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had begun investigating claims of displacement of Arabs and Turkmen.
Syrian Turkmen and Arab residents of Tal Abyad have accused the military wing of the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the People’s Protection Units, of mistreatment. They claimed that the PYD was trying to influence demographics in the region, aiming to establish a Kurdish state by forcing Arab Syrians to migrate to Turkey,
In the past few weeks, Turkey has been witnessing massive inflows of Syrian refugees from Tal Abyad and nearby areas, who were fleeing clashes between Daesh and Syrian-Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
The Syrian border city was captured on June 15 by the YPG with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in northeastern Syria to push back Daesh forces.
Turkey, which shares a 900-kilometer long border with Syria, has given refuge to more than 1.7 million Syrians, according to the UN’s refugee agency, with more people coming in because of ongoing bloodshed in the war-torn country.
A total of 23,349 refugees – mainly Arabs and Turkmen – fleeing clashes in the Syrian town of Tal Abyad have entered Turkey’s Sanliurfa province through the Akcakale border crossing since June 3, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said in a press briefing last week.
Apart from pursuing an “open-door” policy for Syrian refugees fleeing fighting in their country, Turkey also participates in an effort to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces as part of the U.S.-led coalition’s drive to battle Daesh.
Ankara has repeatedly maintained that it will continue to resolutely fight against Daesh. It has strongly rejected claims that Turkey sent weapons and fighters to Daesh in alleged efforts to weaken Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Bilgic, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, recently called the allegations “slanderous”.
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