The United Nations’ migration organization says that well over 10,000 potential migrants have amassed on Turkey’s land border with Greece since Ankara announced that it would “open the doors” to refugees attempting to reach Europe. Greek authorities have used riot-dispersal means in a bid to prevent repeated attempts by crowds to breach the border crossings. Hundreds of others are reportedly braving the Mediterranean Sea with a view to reaching Greek islands by boat. In response, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called an emergency meeting of his national security council, after which Athens announced that it was suspending for a month the asylum applications of all those who enter the country illegally. Turkey’s controversial decision comes amidst a growing crisis in Syria’s Idlib Province, where Ankara on Sunday launched a military operation against Assad regime forces, which, backed by Russian air power, have been engaged in a months-long offensive to retake the last major opposition stronghold. Nearly 1 million civilians have been displaced by the latest fighting, many of whom have headed for the shared border with Turkey, which is already housing some 3.6 million Syrian refugees. Ankara’s move regarding its border with Greece is being construed as an attempt to pressure the West to intervene diplomatically by convincing Russian President Vladimir Putin, the major power broker in Syria, to agree to a truce in Idlib.
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