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Turkey seeks UN Security Council meeting over Turkmens in Syria – sources (Updated)

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addresses the media in Ankara

Turkey has called for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens in neighbouring Syria, sources in the prime minister’s office said, days after Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador to protest against the bombing of their villages.

About 1,700 people have fled the mountainous Syrian area to the Turkish border as a result of fighting in the last three days, one Turkish official said. Russian jets have bombed the area in support of ground operations by Syrian government forces.

Ankara has traditionally expressed solidarity with the Syrian Turkmens, who are Syrians of Turkish descent. It has also repeatedly voiced concern about Russian military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war.

Turkey is in discussions with the United States and Russia over the bombing of the villages and sent a letter to Britain, the current holder of the council’s presidency, asking for the subject to be taken up, the sources said.

They said Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had consulted on the intelligence dimension of the issue with the armed forces chief and the head of the national intelligence agency.

Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu had also discussed the matter by phone with US Secretary of State John Kerry, they said.

Turkey summoned Moscow’s ambassador on Friday and called for an immediate end to the Russian military operation near its border in northern Syria, which it said included “heavy bombardment” of Turkmen civilian villages.

Russian air strikes in support of Assad’s forces have shifted the balance of power in the conflict and dealt a setback to Turkey’s aim of seeing Assad removed from power.

The provincial governor of Turkey’s Hatay province, which borders the area where the bombing is taking place, said around 1,700 Turkmens had fled towards Turkey over the last three days, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Governor Ercan Topaca told a news conference that up to 30,000 inhabitants of the mountainous area could potentially be forced from their homes as a result of the fighting.

Turkey’s disaster and emergency authority AFAD said Turkmen families fleeing the fighting were being sent to the Yamadi camp across the border from the Turkish town of Yayladagi and that tents, blankets and clothing were delivered to them.

Turkey is already hosting around 2.2 million Syrian refugees.

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