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Date TimeSeptember 05, 2019
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Turkey threatens to ‘open gates’ for Syrian refugees to leave and move to the West if it doesnt get safe zone
Turkey has threatened to allow millions of Syrian refugees to cross into the West unless the US agrees to help establish a safe zone to resettle them in northern Syria immediately. "We will be forced to open the gates,” said Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “We cannot be forced to handle the burden alone.” Mr Erdogan wants to establish the so-called safe zone along its border with Syria and resettle at least 1m of the 3.6m Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey there. Since 2016 Turkey has stemmed the flow of migrants through the country into Europe, as part of a deal with the EU, in return for funds for refugee support and visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.  But Mr Erdogan’s government is under increasing pressure to return refugees to Syria or resettle them abroad and the president has increasingly complained that the EU is not upholding its end of the bargain. At least 422 Syrian refugees have been killed by Turkish guards trying to cross the border, including 76 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and there are claims hundreds of refugees have been sent back to Syria by force.  A Syrian woman with her baby is seen inside a makeshift tent among olive trees on their way from Syrias de-escalation zones in Idlib Credit: Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images "We are determined to start the creation of a safe zone east of the Euphrates in the way we want it by the last week of September," said Mr Erdogan. “The most ideal way would be for us to do this with our American friends, but if there is no such ground ... we will start doing it with our own means.” Analysts say the US is unlikely to partner directly in the administration of a safe zone inside Syria because of the myriad risks involved. Europe has hardened against its stance against migrants since 2015, with the Italian government in particular refusing to accept migrants boats.  The Greek government this week warned of a repeat of the 2015 migrant crisis after it saw a spike in arrivals. Authorities were forced to relocate some of the tens of thousands of refugees languishing in camps on the Greek islands.

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