Speed Reads

Crisis in Syria

Official: Turkey won't stop Syrian refugees from going to Europe

A senior Turkish official on Thursday said Turkey will no longer attempt to stop Syrian refugees heading to Europe.

"We have decided, effective immediately, not to stop Syrian refugees from reaching Europe by land or sea," the unidentified official told Reuters. "All refugees, including Syrians, are now welcome to cross into the European Union."

There are 3.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, and in 2016, the European Union agreed to send the country billions of Euros in aid with the understanding that Turkey would prevent the migrants from going on to Europe. Now, as fighting has intensified in Syria's Idlib province and hundreds of thousands of Syrians are displaced, the burden of housing refugees is "too heavy for any single country to carry," the official told Reuters.

In Idlib, Turkish-backed rebels have been trying to keep control of territory they seized from the Syrian government, supported by Russia. On Thursday, a Syrian government airstrike in Idlib killed at least 33 Turkish soldiers, a Turkish official said. In response, Turkish air and land support units are firing on "all known" Syrian government targets, according to Fahrettin Altun, Turkey's communications director.