Turkey has deployed additional armed vehicles and soldiers to its border with Syria as an intensifying military push by Syrian government forces in the country’s last major rebel-held stronghold has prompted fears of a new refugee crisis.
Backed by Russian jets, the Syrian troops have recently made large advances in Idlib province during the deadly offensive that has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee towards safer areas near the Turkish border, according to the United Nations.
The Syrian government’s campaign has shattered a fragile ceasefire that was brokered last month by Turkey and Russia, raising tensions between the two countries which back opposing sides in the conflict but have also coopoerated in attempts to find a solution to the almost nine-year-old war.
Turkish state media reported on Sunday that the deployment of tanks and other armoured vehicles to Reyhanli district of Hatay province was completed earlier in the day.
“Turkey would do what is necessary diplomatically or militarily in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib and keep the region stable,” Ahmet Berat Conkar, a member of the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Al Jazeera.
“Ankara would not hesitate to intervene if the Syrian government offensive turns into a catastrophe,” Conkar said.