Turkey's National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said 148,763 people have crossed the [Greek] border since February 28 and also noted Turkish and Russian forces stationed in Syria conducted their third joint patrol.

In this file photo, refugees and migrants make their way through Edirne, Turkey to reach Greece on March 1, 2020.
In this file photo, refugees and migrants make their way through Edirne, Turkey to reach Greece on March 1, 2020. (Salih Baran / AA)

Turkey on Wednesday announced that nearly 149,000 asylum seekers had crossed its northwestern border to enter Greece since February 28.

 "148,763 people have crossed the [Greek] border since February 28," National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in a televised interview.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Thousands of asylum seekers had camped at Turkey's border with Greece after Ankara declared in late February that it would no longer stop them from going to Europe, accusing the EU of not keep its part of a 2016 refugee deal.

Joint patrol in Syria

Akar also noted that Turkish and Russian forces stationed in Syria conducted their third joint patrol in line with the Moscow agreement in early March.

"Third joint Turkish-Russian land patrol was conducted today [Wednesday] by air and ground vehicles on M4 motorway in Syria's Idlib province, as part of the earlier TR-RF agreement," the National Defence Ministry said on Twitter, adding that patrols would continue.

Turkey and Russia agreed on a protocol which urged parties to "cease all military actions along the line of contact in the Idlib de-escalation area starting from 2101GMT of March 6, 2020."

The protocol also noted that joint Turkish-Russian patrols would begin on March 15 along the M4 highway from the settlement of Trumba –– 2 kilometres west of Saraqib –– to the settlement of Ain Al Havr.

Source: AA