The head of the U.N.'s World Food Program says the agency is preparing for a vast new wave of refugees likely to flee to Turkey if conflict breaks out in Syria's flashpoint Idlib region.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley told The Associated Press on Friday that the agency is "pre-positioning rations for short term, middle range, along the Turkish border."
Beasley says the WFP is working with Turkish, Russian, Syrian, U.S. and other officials "to do what we can to minimize the impact when a war truly goes into full scale mode there."
For now, Turkey and Russia appear to have successfully created a demilitarized zone along Idlib's front lines, after rebels and an al-Qaida-linked alliance pulled back their heavy weapons.
Turkey is already struggling to host some 3 million Syrians.
The Turkish president is suggesting that Turkey's military could soon launch a new operation across the border into northern Syria, in zones held by Syrian Kurdish fighters.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statement is renewing a threat to expand Turkey's military operations into areas east of the Euphrates River held by U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds.
Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish militia as terrorist and part of a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.
Erdogan says: "God willing, very soon ... we will leave the terror nests east of the Euphrates in disarray." He spoke on Friday at a military ceremony honoring Turkish commando soldiers.
Turkey launched incursion into Syria in 2016 and 2018, into areas west of the Euphrates, pushing Islamic State militants as well as Syrian Kurdish fighters from the border area.
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