Turkey says Assad is carrying out ethnic cleansing in Aleppo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says Syrian regime backed by Russian air strikes is carrying out systematic policy of ethnic cleansing during its latest offensive north of Aleppo

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Prime Minister and the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Ahmet Davutoglu delivers a speech during AK Party's group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara on Feb. 09, 2016.

Syrian regime forces backed by Russia are carrying out a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.

"One of the aims of the latest attacks is to conduct ethnic cleansing," said Davutoglu, at a joint news conference with his Dutch counterpart. 

"Ethnic cleansing in Syria and Aleppo aimed at only leaving regime supporters behind is being conducted by the Syrian regime and Russia in a very deliberate way," he said.

"Every refugee that we accept helps their ethnic cleansing policy but we will continue to accept (refugees)." 

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks during a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Catshuis in The Hague, Netherlands on Feb. 10, 2016.

Syrian refugees escaping the violence in their country fled the country in large numbers following the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2012. One of their most preferred destinations was neighbouring Turkey, which hosts the most Syrian refugees in the world according to registration records of the United Nations.

Turkey has spent more than $8 billion of its own resources on the refugees whose number in the country has nearly reached 2.7 million people.

Tens of thousands of Syrians since last Thursday have been fleeing to the Turkish border north of Aleppo, following heavy Russian air strikes and reports of Syrian regime forces and its allies making gains in Aleppo's northern countryside, cutting opposition supply lines to Turkey.

Taking full control of Aleppo would be a strategic gain for the Assad regime in the five-year conflict that has killed at least 260,000 people across the country and driven out more than half of the Syrian population.

It could also push a massive new wave of refugees to the Turkish border. Turkey has kept an open-door policy for civilians fleeing Syria throughout the conflict, but is coming under growing pressure from Europe to stem the flow of refugees and from the United States to secure the border more tightly.

TRTWorld, Reuters