The Turkish authorities fear another two to three million Syrian refugees could cross its borders if the region of Syria’s second largest city Aleppo, is overrun either by the extremists of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) or forces loyal to the Syrian regime, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday.
Turkey is already sheltering at least 1.5 million refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict and has repeatedly warned that its capacities are being strained by the numbers.
Cavusoglu said supporting the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) is the only option for the international community against what Ankara sees as the twin threat of ISIS jihadists and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“The main force fighting both IS and the Syrian regime today is the Free Syrian Army,” he said.
“But it has failed to achieve the desired outcome because it is fighting against both groups,” he told reporters in Ankara alongside his Finnish counterpart.
Cavusoglu said there was little difference between IS militants and the Assad regime.
“Both of them are killing people brutally and don’t refrain from using any kinds of weapons at their disposal. Both force people to flee their land,” he said. “An advance on Aleppo would mean an influx of two to three million people across the Turkish border.”
Cavusoglu added that a weakening of the moderate opposition to Assad and the FSA would “result in the advance of the unstoppable IS as well as the regime”.
“And this will make Syria even more unstable. Therefore, the advance of both of them should be halted.”
Turkey has repeatedly called for the ousting of Assad as the sole way to permanently resolve the Syrian crisis.
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