Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned against the Syria’s pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) militia taking over the Syrian border district of Tal Abyad.
Commenting on the Syrian refugee crisis on Saturday at an iftar (Ramadan fast breaking of fast) dinner in Turkey's southeastern Mardin province, President Erdogan said, “The mistakes which were made in the past concerning the Assad regime in Syria and ISIS are being repeated today with the PYD.”
Stressing that “any solution that was incompatible with the region’s history, sociology and demographics would not work,” Erdogan continued to say that Turkey keeps working to find a solution which will not only guarantee the rights of a specific ethnic or religious group in the region, but rather for everyone who lives there.
“Forced ethnic and religious impositions will only lead to more violence and bloodshed.”
According to Turkish officials, a total of 20,997 Syrian refugees who escaped from Tal Abyad have entered Turkey’s Sanliurfa province through the Akcakale border crossing in the past two weeks.
In his speech, President Erdogan also criticised the international community for not responding to the global refugee crisis.
Noting that such inaction “is a crime against humanity,” Erdogan added, “No country can attain the welfare and peace they desire by closing themselves to the outer world. The countries which refused to open their doors to the refugees avoided contributing to Turkey’s refugee response.”
"Now, in our country, there are two million refugees. In Europe as a whole, this figure is not even 200,000. We did not abandon any victims and or the oppressed at the hands of the cruel, and never will,” Erdogan said.
PYD takes over Syrian cities bordering Turkey
The outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate PYD started to settle the abandoned territories in town of Tal Abyad.
Tal Abyad, previously held by ISIS, is an oil-rich city located between the strategically important Kobane and Jazera “cantons,” which are under the control of the of PYD and are located along major trade and smuggling routes to ISIS-held Raqqa. Having taken control of Tal Abyad, the PYD is now able to join both “cantons.”
In November 2013, the PYD announced three autonomous areas or “cantons” along the Turkish border in Afrin, Jazira and Kobane following the withdrawal of Syrian regime forces from mostly Kurdish inhabited areas where the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the militant wing of the PYD, took control in July 2012 in the course of the Syrian civil war.
Describing the situation “concerning,” Erdogan expressed his concerns on June 14 about the destiny of Syrian refugees rushing into Turkey saying, “This allows armed groups to settle near our border which can cause danger to us in the future. Everybody should consider our sensibility regarding this issue.”
Turkey shares a 900-kilometre border with Syria and has sheltered more than 1.7 million Syrians, according to the UN, with more arriving because of ongoing bloodshed in the war-torn country.
According to government figures, the country has spent more than $6 billion so far for refugees while the international community's help has amounted to $300 million.
The UN announced in a report on Thursday that the global refugee count has hit 60 million people, many of whom are Syrians escaping the war.