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Up to 20,000 stranded at Syria border with Turkey—UN

/ 02:06 PM February 06, 2016
Turkey Syria

In this photo provided by Turkey’s Islamic aid group of IHH, Syrians fleeing the conflicts in Azaz region, arrive in a lorry at the Bab al-Salam border gate, Syria, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. Turkish officials say thousands of Syrians have massed on the Syrian side of the border seeking refuge in Turkey. Officials at the government’s crisis management agency said Friday it was not clear when Turkey would open the border to allow the group in and start processing them. The refugees who fled bombing in Aleppo, were waiting at the Bab al-Salam crossing, opposite the Turkish province of Kilis. IHH via AP

BEIRUT, Lebanon—Up to 20,000 Syrians fleeing a government advance in northern Aleppo province have gathered at a border crossing with Turkey, the United Nations said on Friday.

“It is estimated that up to 20,000 people have gathered at the Bab al-Salama border crossing and another 5,000 to 10,000 people have been displaced to Azaz city” nearby, said Linda Tom, a spokeswoman for the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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READ: Russia accuses Turkey of preparing to invade Syria

She said another 10,000 people were estimated to have been displaced to the Kurdish town of Afrin, elsewhere in northern Aleppo.

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“There is currently one IDP (internally displaced persons) camp in Afrin district and plans are under way to expand the camp,” she told AFP.

“The fighting has also disrupted major aid and supply routes from the Turkish border,” she added.

“Humanitarian organizations are responding to the needs of those displaced, but ongoing military conflict is making access to populations in need increasingly difficult.”

Syrian government forces backed by allied militias and Russian airpower began a major offensive in northern Aleppo on Monday, seizing a string of villages from rebels and severing their main supply route to Turkey.

The advances have prompted tens of thousands of people to flee and left the opposition and civilians in rebel-held eastern Aleppo city virtually encircled.

On Thursday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned that up to 70,000 people were heading to his country, with 10,000 already waiting at the border.

READ: Turkish PM says 10,000 Syrians wait at border

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Turkey already hosts about 2.5 million Syrian refugees.

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TAGS: Aleppo, Conflict, Refugees, Syria, UN
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