Assad loyalists continue to kill civilians in their bombardment of northern Syria, with tens of thousands ending up displaced.
More than 80,000 Syrians have fled Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad’s recent Russian-backed bombing campaign in Idlib, sounding alarms over a potential new wave of refugees who could make their way to Turkey and Europe.
The displaced from Idlib, the last opposition stronghold in northwestern Syria, are heading to Turkey in search of sanctuary.
"If the violence towards the people of Idlib does not stop, this number will increase even more. In that case, Turkey will not carry such a migrant burden on its own," said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, indicating that Europe needs to step up to help resolve both the Syrian conflict and Turkey’s enormous refugee burden.
“The pressure that we will face will also be felt by all European countries, mainly Greece," Erdogan warned.
Turkey has hosted nearly four million refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, carrying most of the nine-year-long conflict’s refugee burden.
The EU, which has benefitted from Ankara’s taking in of refugees, has done very little to address the core issue and has instead offered fierce criticism of Turkey’s attempts to create a secure safe zone in northern Syria, to which refugees can return.
"We call on European countries to use their energy to stop the massacre in Idlib, rather than trying to corner Turkey for the legitimate steps it took in Syria," Erdogan said.
Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring is aimed at eliminating the terrorist YPG presence from its border areas in order to create safe zones for refugees to return to.
More than 100,000 refugees have so far returned to areas liberated by Ankara from the YPG, the Syrian wing of the PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the US.
The PKK has long plagued Turkey with a terrorist campaign that has lasted more than three decades and has led to the death of more than 40,000 citizens, including women, children, and infants.
The EU has not only refused to acknowledge Turkey’s concerns about the PKK but has also refused to assist the country’s efforts to resettle refugees in areas liberated from the YPG/PKK.
The terrorist network has received EU help under the guise of fighting the Daesh terror organisation in Syria.
Despite agreeing to a safe zone agreement in Idlib with Turkey in September 2018, Russia continues to assist the Assad regime in its war against Syrians in Idlib, including with direct air attacks.
The bombardment, which includes the use of indiscriminate barrel bombs, has forced tens of thousands to flee.
Idlib is home to three million people and a replication of regime assaults in other areas, such as Eastern Ghouta and Aleppo, would result in the deaths of thousands. Many of those already in the opposition-held territory are refugees from other parts of Syria.
In order to convince Russia to rein in Assad regime attacks, Turkey will dispatch a delegation of diplomates to Moscow in the hope of ending the current assault and preventing the killing of more civilians.
On Sunday, the Turkey-based Syrian Relief and Development group (SRD) was organising rescue operations to provide urgent relief to civilians caught up in the attacks.
"Today, our team saw at least four vehicles carrying injured civilians as well as dead bodies, struggling to reach the border area," said Obaidah Dandoush, a member of the SRD, according to Al Jazeera.
According to Dandoush, witnesses compared the scenes in Idlib to apocalyptic scenes from religious texts as barrel bombs and missiles rained down on civilian areas.
"Surface-to-air missiles are extremely loud and are one of the main reasons people decide to pick up and leave with nothing but the clothes on their backs," he said.
"They say it's like judgement day ... People just want to die together and not have to live another day in fear of losing yet another loved one," Dandoush added.