Turkey is ready “if necessary” to let in Syrian refugees trapped on its border after fleeing heavy fighting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Tens of thousands of Syrians, mostly women and children, remain stuck at the Turkish border after escaping a Russia-backed government offensive in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
“The regime has now blocked a part of Aleppo … Turkey is under threat,” Erdogan told reporters on his plane returning from Senegal on Saturday.
“If they reached our door and have no other choice, if necessary, we have to and will let our brothers in,” Erdogan added.
The governor of Turkey’s Kilis border province, Suleyman Tapsiz, said on Saturday that Turkey was taking care of the 30,000 to 35,000 refugees who had gathered around the nearby Syrian city of Azaz over the space of 48 hours.
Another 70,000 may head for the frontier if Russian air strikes and Syrian regime military advances continued in Aleppo, he added.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Gaziantep in Turkey, Fadi Hajjar, a Syrian activist with the Aleppo Media Centre, said there were between 30,000 to 50,000 people waiting at the border.
“This number is likely to increase in the coming days,” he said on Sunday.
“Some villages in Aleppo have been completely emptied of people”.
Turkey’s Oncupinar border crossing, which faces Bab al-Salama inside Syria, remained closed for a third day, the AFP news agency reported on Sunday.
“But the border keeps open for emergency situations,” a Turkish official told the AFP news agency.
“Seven injured were taken to Turkey on Friday and one on Saturday for treatment at Turkish hospitals,” the official said.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, said on Saturday that his country would keep its “open border policy” for Syrian refugees.