A Turkish delegation was in Russia on Monday for talks on Syria, following reports that Russian-backed attacks there were forcing tens of thousands more Syrians to flee towards Turkey.
Turkey already hosts about 3.7 million Syrians – the world’s biggest refugee population. Its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday it could not handle a new influx and was urging Russia to stop the strikes in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.
The Turkey-based Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said on Monday 120,000 Syrians were fleeing towards the Turkish border – higher than Erdogan’s estimate of 80,000.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to recapture the Idlib region, the last significant area of Syria still under opposition control after eight and a half years of war.
Russia and Iran have supported Assad’s forces during the Syrian conflict while Turkey has backed the Syrian opposition fighting Assad.
Russian and Syrian army jets have been targeting civilian convoys trying to flee the Idlib city of Maarat al-Numan, leaving hundreds of families still trapped there, activists and aid groups have said.
“It’s a tragic situation for civilians remaining in the city since Russian jets are hitting any convoy that leaves the city, while those who were able to reach areas closer to the border have nowhere to shelter,” said Mohamad Rasheed, an activist in the area.