Syrian Turkmens flee to camps near Turkish border

Displaced Syrian Turkmens take shelter in camps near Turkish border after escaping from heavy bombardment on Turkmen mountains

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Scores of displaced Syrian Turkmens recently took shelter in refugee camps near the Turkish border after they escaped from Russian air strikes and attacks by the regime’s ground forces in the Turkmen region.

A video released by the Turkish prime minister's office showed Syrian Turkmens who had fled their homes in the country's Latakia Province where the violence surged waiting on the Syrian side of the border on Friday.

Turkish officials also reported on Friday that more than 1,700 people have fled the Turkmen areas in Syria to the Turkish border due to heavy fighting in the last three days.

These regions have been recently bombed by Russian warplanes in support of ground operations by Syrian government forces.

Visiting the camps near the Syrian border, the president of the Turkish Red Crescent - Ahmet Lutfu Akar - said, "We all hear the gunfire and explosions at the moment. These attacks are supposedly launched against the DAESH terrorist organisation but we know for sure that DAESH is not present in that region, as our intelligence sources have confirmed."

"Who are actually being targeted there are our Turkmen brothers,’’ he added.

Akar also said that the Turkish Red Crescent has been providing humanitarian aid to the region for nearly five years.

"We have established 'mobile ovens' through which we can deliver ten thousand loafs of bread every day to the other side of the border. We try to do our best to meet the needs of these people."

At least 5,000 Syrian Turkmen were forced to evacuate their villages and flee to the Syrian-Turkish border last Friday night following an intense three day aerial bombardment by Russia on their villages supported by a ground assault by forces loyal to Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.

The assault targeted at least 14 Turkmen villages, resulting in civilian casualties, according to various media accounts.

The Russian intervention into the Syrian conflict began with a bombing campaign on the side of the Assad regime on Sept. 30, targeting mostly Syrian opposition-held territories in the country, rather than DAESH. The intervention has been strongly protested by the US, Turkey and the NATO alliance.

Turkey, which has historical and cultural ties with Syrian Turkmen communities dating back centuries, also strongly condemned the recent Russian bombardment of the area.

"We condemn the surging attacks on the Bayirbucak region where our Turkmen brothers live and these innocent people are constantly bombarded by air strikes and also by ground forces," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

"Therefore, they started to flee towards our Syrian border," Erdogan said.

TRTWorld and agencies