Greek police fired teargas toward migrants who were demanding entry as a crisis over Syria abruptly moved onto the European Union's doorstep.

Migrants run away as Greek anti riot police officers use tears gas on the buffer zone Turkey-Greece border, at Pazarkule, in Edirne district, on February 29 , 2020.
Migrants run away as Greek anti riot police officers use tears gas on the buffer zone Turkey-Greece border, at Pazarkule, in Edirne district, on February 29 , 2020. (AFP)

Greece said on Saturday it has blocked thousands of migrants from crossing its border "illegally" from Turkey, following an influx of refugees fleeing fresh violence in northwestern Syria. 

"Greece yesterday came under an organised, mass, illegal attack of violation of our borders and endured it," government spokesman Stelios Petsas said on Saturday after an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. 

"We averted more than 4,000 attempts of illegal entrance to our land borders." 

Greek police fired teargas toward migrants who were demanding entry as a crisis over Syria abruptly moved onto the European Union's doorstep.

Live images from Greece's Skai TV on the Turkish side of the northern land border at Kastanies showed Greek riot police firing teargas rounds at groups of migrants who were hurling stones and shouting obscenities.

Media were not permitted to approach the Greek side of the border in the early morning, but the area smelled heavily of teargas, a Reuters witness said.

Greece said earlier on Saturday that it was determined to protect its borders.

"The government will do whatever it takes to protect its borders," government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters. In the past 24 hours, he said, Greek authorities had averted attempts by 4,000 people to cross.

A Turkish government official said late Thursday that Turkey will no longer contain the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers after an air strike on war-ravaged Idlib in Syria killed 33 Turkish soldiers earlier that day.

Almost immediately, convoys of people appeared heading to the Greek land and sea borders on Friday.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies