Greece blocks passage of migrants as Turkey opens the doors
Greece said it has blocked thousands of migrants from crossing its border "illegally" from Turkey after President Erdogan opened his country’s borders for migrants to cross into Europe.
Iran Press/Europe: Greece said Saturday it has blocked thousands of migrants from crossing its border "illegally" from Turkey, following an influx of refugees after the escalation of tensions in northwestern Syria.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey declared on Saturday that he had opened his country’s borders for migrants to cross into Europe, saying that Turkey could no longer handle the numbers fleeing the war in Syria.
"Greece yesterday came under an organized, mass, illegal attack of violation of our borders and endured it," government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Saturday after an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
"We averted more than 4,000 attempts of the illegal entry to our land borders."
Clashes erupted between Greek police and migrants on the border Saturday, after the influx of refugees following deadly strikes in Syria's Idlib province.
Migrants played a cat-and-mouse game with Greek border patrols throughout the night and into Saturday, with some cutting holes in the fence only to be turned back by tear gas and stun grenades.
The move by Turkey to open its border, first announced Thursday, was seen in Greece as a deliberate attempt to pressure European countries. It comes as tensions ratcheted up between Turkey and Syria.
More than 55 Turkish troops have been killed since Turkey began sending further reinforcements into areas of northwest Syria under the control of opposition factions, which are backed by Turkey.
Following the escalation of tensions in Syria’s Idlib, Turkey has sent thousands of troops and heavy military hardware into Syria and Erdogan has warned Turkey would launch a full-scale offensive to repel Syrian forces unless they pulled back from Turkish observation posts in the region.
In recent days, the Syrian army has managed to liberate several areas and villages in the south and east of Idlib province. The province of Idlib is the last base of terrorists in Syria.
Syrian Army has reclaimed significant territory since launching a stepped-up offensive in December, including areas around some of the Turkish military posts in Idlib.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened the Syrian government in recent days, saying the offensive violates a 2018 deal with Russia meant to prevent a broad military operation.