Turkey is to build a large camp in Syria near the city of Idlib for evacuees fleeing Aleppo as forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad consolidate their hold on the eastern part of the city, formerly held by rebels.
The camp will be built some six kilometres from the Turkish border to the southwest of Idlib, the destination for thousands of Aleppo evacuees under a ceasefire agreement that faltered in recent days.
Kerem Kinik, the president of the Turkish Red Crescent, told the state-run Anadolu news agency that the camp would have 10,000 tents, as well as a school, a clinic, mobile toilets and bathing facilities. Work on the facility has already begun and the first phase will be completed within four days, he said.
He added that Turkey was planning to increase the capacity of the camp to accommodate 50,000 people.
Veysi Kaynak, the deputy prime minister of Turkey, told the Daily Sabah that the area was chosen because it was protected by Turkey’s air defences. "We have anti-aircraft guns that can lock on their warplanes and they avoid approaching there for this reason," he said.
He added that the government was also prepared for an influx of refugees inside Turkey.
The country took in 60 of the injured from Aleppo on Friday, and treated them in three field hospitals that have been set up near border. Recep Akdag, the minister for health, told the Kanal 24 television broadcaster that more than 800 beds had been set up at hospitals across the country in preparation for an influx of injured Syrians from Aleppo.
The evacuation of the last rebel enclaves in eastern Aleppo, which are surrounded by Syrian forces, began again late on 18 December.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a total of 12,000 civilians had been evacuated from Aleppo, including 4,500 since midnight on 18 December, Reuters reported.
Image: Esraa, four, and her brother Waleed, three, sit on the ground near a shelter for internally displaced persons (Unicef)