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Turkey's Erdogan threatens to push refugees into Europe

by Betül Duru
Tue, Mar 3rd 2020 01:00 pm
Smoke billowed into the air in Idlib, Syria after the Syrian government ordered an air strike, the Turkish government retaliated and banned news of the strike from social media nationwide.
Smoke billowed into the air in Idlib, Syria after the Syrian government ordered an air strike, the Turkish government retaliated and banned news of the strike from social media nationwide.

On Thursday, Feb. 27, approximately 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in Idlib, Syria by an air strike from the Syrian government. The actual amount of casualties is unclear as of now, but it is confirmed that many are injured. 

“Despite warnings after the first strike, the Syrian regime unfortunately continued its attacks, even targeting ambulances,” Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday, stating that retaliatory attacks killed “309 regime troops,” according to Al Jazeera. 

In response to the airstrike the Turkish government vowed to target the Syrian government in response. 

“Turkish forces destroyed five Syrian regime choppers, 23 tanks, 10 armored vehicles, 23 howitzers, five ammunition trucks, a SA-17, a SA-22 air defense system as well as three ammunition depots,” Al Jazeera reported. 

On March 15, 2011, a civil war sparked in Syria. The citizens resented president Bashar el-Assad’s authoritarian role, the increasing economic problems and the lack of freedom in the country. 

“As public anger intensified, the growing chaos attracted extremist fighters throughout the region, including remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq and an offshoot that became the Islamic State, or ISIS,” according to USA Today. “Eventually, a full Syrian rebellion was mounted against Assad's regime.” 

As the civil war progressed, the U.S. entered the war in 2014 purportedly to support the fight against ISIS. 

“The United States started arming and providing military air cover in 2014 for anti-Assad rebel groups who were also waging war against ISIS,” USA Today relayed. “Washington also began working with Syrian Kurds, one of the strongest partners in the fight against ISIS.” 

The Russian Federation, a long time ally of the Syrian government entered the war in 2015 to help support the Assad regime. 

The Turkish government first intervened in Syria in 2016, stating that the Assad regime is a threat to them and all of Europe, military operations began in 2019. 

Since then the war between Syria and Turkey has escalated immensely. “The deaths [on Thursday, Feb. 27] were the largest number of fatalities suffered by Turkey in a single day since it first intervened in Syria in 2016,” according to Al Jazeera. 

Shortly after the news of the attack on Turkish troops reached Turkey, social media was blocked country wide. 

This behavior is consistent with president Recep Erdogan’s administration. In previous years the internet was blocked several times during crucial periods in which his reputation would be tainted. 

“Thankfully, Turks are well-seasoned in circumventing internet bans thanks to the two-year Youtube ban some years back. #Turkey,” wrote esi_zey via Twitter. 

In 2016, Turkey passed an internet ‘killswitch’ as law, permitting the ICTA regulatory authority to partially or completely suspend internet access due to war or national security needs without the need for oversight. 

The Turkish president has also repeatedly warned European leaders with threats about sending Syrian refugees to the continent since it is the only leverage he has left. 

Turkish threats to send millions of Syrian refugees to Europe's doorstep if sanctioned or condemned for its military intervention in northeast Syria are credible, European and Turkish security officials told Business Insider Friday. 

In Erdogan’s speech to the members of his political party he officially threatened the European Union. In the same speech he claimed the Turkish army had won in the Syrian city of Idlib and had only lost three soldiers. 

“We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way,” Erdogan said according to Business Insider. 

Although he has threatened to send the refugees many times, several people have claimed he could do this easily if he put his mind to it. 

After hearing the news, the Syrian refugees were eager to leave Turkey for the European continent. 

“Hundreds of refugees were headed to Greece’s land border, where an estimated 450 people crossed into no man’s land at the Kastanies crossing and were stopped at the Greek border,” according to New York Post. “Greek police used tear gas and flash grenades briefly to move them back, and temporarily shut down the crossing.” 

Currently it seems as if many soldiers died because of the ambitions of a dictator, and the lives of millions of refugees are in crisis as a result. 

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