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Turkey Sees Russia's Syria Tactics as 'Ethnic Cleansing'

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (r) and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte in The Hague, Netherlands, Feb. 10, 2016.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (r) and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte in The Hague, Netherlands, Feb. 10, 2016.

Turkey’s prime minister criticized the U.N. Security Council and the international community Wednesday for failing to stop Russia's intense airstrikes against Aleppo and other parts of northern Syria, while demanding that Turkey must open its borders to tens of thousands of refugees.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it is "hypocrisy" to press Turkey to take in a swelling human tide of war refugees, while at the same time, he added, "there is nobody who dares to tell the Russians that they must stop" their bombardment of civilian areas.

Speaking in The Hague at a joint news conference with his Dutch counterpart, Davutoglu accused Syrian government forces and their Russian allies of carrying out a deliberate policy of “ethnic cleansing” in and around Aleppo - driving out everyone who opposes the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

"We should all accept refugees but these attacks are also intended to bring about a kind of ethnic cleansing in Syria so that all people who don't support Syrian regime, they are driven out of the country. It is a systematic ethnic cleansing," said Davutoglu.

The intensified Syrian-Russian operation around Aleppo has forced tens of thousands of people to flee toward Turkey. Turkey is not closing its doors to those war victims, Davutoglu said, but its priority is to provide aid to people in refugee camps inside Syria.

The Turkish prime minister said Russian warplanes have destroyed refugee camps that his government helped set up in Syrian territory, as well as a humanitarian corridor that had linked the Turkish border and Aleppo.

"What we wanted is that Syrians should be received in camps in Syria. That's why we have set up camps there, but these were destroyed by Russian bombardments. These people were forced to flee their houses in the direction of the Turkish border. There was a humanitarian corridor between Turkish border and Aleppo and that corridor was destroyed by these evil forces," he said.

At the United Nations, the Security Council has been meeting privately on the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collects data from a variety of Syrian rebel factions, said Wednesday that the recent Russian air campaign has killed at least 500 people.