Over 20,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey


More than 1,600 Syrians fled to Turkey in the last two days, pushing the number sheltering on Turkish soil from the fighting in their homeland to more than 20,000, Turkey's disaster and emergency management authority said on today.

The increased flow of refugees coincided with reports from activists of increased fighting around the Syrian towns of Idlib and Azaz.

The numbers fleeing were the highest since March 15 when around 1,000 Syrians entered Turkey in one day. Since then, around 300 to 400 Syrians have fled each day.

Turkish leaders have said a flood of refugees or massacres of civilians by Syrian government troops on its border could force it to act to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said last month that setting up a "safe" or "buffer" zone along the border was among the options his government was considering.

But that would mean sending in troops to secure the area and that could lead to confrontation between Syrian forces and the Turkish army, the second biggest in Nato.

A Turkish official said earlier between 800 and 900 Syrians crossed into Turkey on Wednesday. The total number in Turkey is now 21,285.