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28 Feb, 2020 11:06

WATCH asylum-seekers march towards Europe after Turkey declares it will no longer hold them back

Turkey has announced it will no longer hold back people who wish to go to Europe and seek asylum there amid an escalation in Syria. Some have been quick to rush towards coasts and borders before Ankara changes its mind.

Would-be irregular immigrants have started trickling closer to Europe after top Turkish officials said Ankara would deliver on its threat and open the floodgates of migrants on Europe. The hopefuls are gathering in the Edirne province, which borders Greece and Bulgaria, as well as on Turkey’s Aegean coast close to the Greek island of Lesbos, AFP reported.

Anadolu Agency posted drone footage of groups of people walking across a field in Edirne, presumably filmed in the early hours of Friday morning.

Scenes of people carrying backpacks and waving to the cameras were shown by the Turkish media and spread on social media.

In 2016, the EU agreed to pay Turkey €6 billion ($6.6 billion) and boost negotiations on its ascension into the union in exchange for stemming the flow of irregular migrants, which flooded Europe a year earlier. Ankara, which hosts some 3.6 million people from neighboring Syria, has long complained that Europe is not doing enough to help it carry the burden and failed to uphold its part of the bargain in some regards.

Also on rt.com 'No longer in position to hold them': Turkey says it can’t contain Europe-bound Syrian refugees amid Idlib flare-up

The greenlight for migration was given by Turkey after an escalation of hostilities in Syria’s Idlib province, where 33 Turkish soldiers were killed by a Syrian airstrike on Thursday. Ankara argues that it faces a new influx of refugees and thus is no longer in a position to stop them from going to Europe.

The ability of the potential migrants to reach Europe is not guaranteed even if Turkey does not reverse its decision. Bulgaria and Greece have erected walls along their land borders with Turkey in response to the migrant crisis. The EU stepped up maritime patrols in the Mediterranean to stop people from reaching its territory via sea routes.

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