New refugee crisis as 30,000 migrants mass on Turkish borders

New refugee crisis as 30,000 migrants from countries including Syria mass on Turkish borders with Greece and Bulgaria as they hurl stones at guards and try to cut through razor wire

  • It came after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan ‘opened the doors’ to allow up to 4m to leave country
  • Greek police closed border crossings and fired tear gas at groups of migrants who tried to enter from Turkey
  • Pregnant women and children were among those making hazardous crossings from Turkey to Greece by sea 

TENS of thousands of refugees from Syria and other countries were massing on the Turkish borders with Greece and Bulgaria last night, hurling stones at guards and trying to cut through razor wire.

An estimated 30,000 migrants gathered at checkpoints after Turkey’s president claimed to have ‘opened the doors’ to allow as many as 4 million asylum seekers to leave the country.

Greek police closed border crossings and fired tear gas at large groups of migrants who tried to enter from Turkey yesterday, while pregnant women and children were among those making hazardous crossings by sea.

One of the first stand-offs came on Friday night at Pazarkule, north-eastern Greece, where hundreds of migrants – including Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Moroccans – demanded to be let in.

An estimated 30,000 migrants gathered at checkpoints after Turkey’s president claimed to have ‘opened the doors’ to allow as many as 4 million asylum seekers to leave the country

Migrants throw objects during clashes with Greek police, at the Turkey’s Pazarkule border crossing with Greece’s Kastanies, in Edirne, Turkey

Refugees and migrants gather at Pazarkule border as they attempt to enter Greece

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) members distribute food to migrants and refugees that gathered at the Turkish-Greek border, near Edirne, Turkey

A group of young men who tried to cut through the border fence were turned back by armed soldiers, while police used smoke grenades to disperse crowds.

Bulgaria also locked down its southern border and deployed soldiers and military vehicles to patrol its 118-mile frontier with Turkey.

Angry clashes started just 24 hours after an announcement by Turkish authorities that it would no longer restrict the movement of refugees, tearing up a £5 billion agreement with the EU to contain the flow of asylum seekers signed after the 2015 migrant crisis.

Turkey’s decision comes amid frustration that the EU and Nato countries, including Britain, have failed to provide enough support in the country’s opposition to President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war. On Thursday, 33 Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian forces, dramatically raising tensions in a war in which Turkey and Russia are backing opposing sides.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted he would not back down, adding that his country could not handle another wave of refugees from northern Syria. ‘We opened the doors,’ he said. ‘We will not close those doors. Why? Because the EU should keep its promises.’

The EU said Turkey had not formally notified Brussels of any change to its migration policy.

A drone photo shows migrants moving towards, and congregating around, the Turkish side of the Turkey-Greece border at Pazarkule, Edirne, Turkey today 

A migrants stands during clashes with Greek police, at the Turkey’s Pazarkule border crossing with Greece’s Kastanies, in Edirne, Turkey today 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (rear C) makes a speech as he holds a meeting with his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s Istanbul deputies at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, Turkey today 

Greek police officers are pictured from Turkey’s Pazarkule border crossing with Greece’s Kastanies during clashes with migrants, in Edirne, Turkey today 

A locator map shows the crossing governorate Edirne, which houses most of the borders into Greece and Bulgaria, and Lesbos, where many migrants from sub-Saharan Africa land on dinghys 

Tear gas floats in the air during clashes between migrants and Greek police, at the Turkey’s Pazarkule border crossing with Greece’s Kastanies, in Edirne, Turkey today 

A map shows the border points from Turkey into Greece and Bulgaria, and from Syria into Turkey 

Migrants can be seen on their way towards the Turkish-Greek border in Edime, Turkey today  

Syrian migrants can be seen being rescued after being stranded on an islet after they tried reaching the Greek side of the Evros River in Edirne, Turkey today

A woman reacts as a dinghy transporting 27 refugees and migrants originating from Gambia and the Republic of Congo lands in Lesbos island after they were rescued by a war ship during their sea crossing between Turkey and Greece today 

Migrants wait as Greek anti riot police officers patrol on the buffer zone Turkey-Greece border, at Pazarkule, in Edirne district today 

Migrants can be seen after they were rescued when stranded on an islet while trying to paddle to the Greek side of the Evros river, in Turkey todya 

A man takes coover behind an umbrella as he throws a mattress in a fire during clashes with Greek police in the buffer zone at Turkey-Greece border, at Pazarkule, in Edirne district today 

Migrants, who are trying to cross into Europe through Turkey, are pictured reaching for food aid near the Pazarkule Border in Karaagac neighbourhood of Edirne, Turkey today 

A Greek policeman collects tear gas canisters reportedly thrown from the Turkish side of the border during riots beween migrants and Greek police at the closed Kastanies border crossing, on the borderline between Greece and Turkey, near the Evros River today 

Refugees wait for attempting to pass the closed-off Turkish-Greek border and try to enter Europe, Edirne, Turkey today 

Refugees wait for attempting to pass the closed-off Turkish-Greek border and try to enter Europe, Edirne, Turkey today while Greek border officials look on from the Greek side

Greek Police guard Kastanies border gate, Evros region, as a migrant stands in front of a fence between Greece and Pazarkule border gate, Edirne, Turkey today 

Greek riot policemen guard behind fences as refugees wait for attempting to pass the closed-off Turkish-Greek border and try to enter Europe, Edirne today 

Irregular migrants, who want to proceed to Europe, wait at the Turkish side and the buffer zone between the Greek Kastanies and Turkish Pazarkule border gates today in Turkey 

Migrants run away as Greek anti-riot police officers use tears gas on the buffer zone Turkey-Greece border, at Pazarkule today 

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