Migrants walk to border gate Pazarkule in Edirne, near Turkey-Greece border, AP Photo

The EU has asked Ankara to "honor its commitments" after Turkey said it would no longer impede the passage of migrants to Europe, which urged hundreds of refugees to go to the borders with Greece and Bulgaria.

Iran PressEurope: The EU’s request on Friday came after the rapid escalation of the conflict which threatened another refugee crisis as media reports cited Turkish officials as saying they "opened the gates" for Syrian refugees to transit unimpeded to Europe.

Turkey's action also triggered an emergency NATO meeting following an airstrike in Idlib by Syria that killed at least 33 Turkish soldiers.

It was the largest death toll for Turkey in a single day since it started its military presence in Syria in 2016 against the Syrian forces.

Turkey hosts some 3.6 million Syrians and made a deal with the EU to step up efforts to halt the flow of refugees — but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to “open the gates."

Omer Celik, a spokesman for Erdogan's AKP, said Turkey was “no longer able to hold refugees” following the Idlib attack.

Greece announced on Friday that it has stepped up its patrols on the border with Turkey, AFP reported. 

Emergency NATO meeting over Idlib airstrike

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called for an immediate return to a ceasefire in Syria and reaffirmed support for Turkey following emergency talks at the latter's request.

He said allies were continuing to search for ways to support Turkey following the strike and promised increased air defenses against missile strikes from Syria.

The emergency meeting, held on Friday morning in Brussels, was held under Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, which allows any ally to request consultations if it feels its territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.

Escalation of tensions in Syria’s Idlib

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.


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