MUNICH (AFP) – Russian bombing killed 16 civilians in Syria early Friday, hours after world powers agreed to a deal to end hostilities within a week, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“Despite the agreement we made last night, Russia continued bombing the civilians — they killed 16 civilians this morning,” he said in Munich, where the Syria agreement was struck.
“There have been strikes against schools and hospitals as well.”
Turkey hosts some 2.5 million refugees from the five-year-old war, and a recent major offensive by Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian air strikes, on the northern city of Aleppo has driven tens of thousands more to the Turkish border.
Cavusoglu said Turkey was providing humanitarian aid and building camps to accommodate them, though he added that many might choose to return home if a ceasefire held.
“We are building new tents on the other side of the border,” he said, adding that “the areas where they are temporarily staying at the other side of the border is safe.
“Why did these people have to leave their town? They stayed there for five years despite all these terrorists and the brutal regime. (They left) because of the Russian bombing.”
Turkey has also been the major transit country for Syrian refugees and other migrants headed for Europe, and the EU has asked Ankara to help stop the flow by sealing its borders, fighting traffickers and housing even more refugees with EU financial help.
The minister stressed that it was crucial to “deal with the root causes” of the refugee wave, predicting that “if we cannot stop the bloodshed, the war, more and more refugees will be coming.”