Ankara - The Turkish government fears that fierce fighting inSyria's Aleppo province will spark the arrival of up to 600 000 refugees at itsborder in a "worst case scenario", Deputy Prime Minister
"The worst-case scenario that could happen in this region inthe short term would be a new influx of 600 000 refugees at the Turkishfrontier," Kurtulmus told journalists following a cabinet meeting.
The clashes in the north of Aleppo province – sparked by aweek-long government assault with Russian air support – have displaced tens ofthousands of people.
"As a consequence of this situation, we are seeing 200 000people being forced to flee – 65 000 in the direction of Turkey and 135 000inside Syria," Kurtulmus said.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said earlier on Monday that some 30000 people were already massed at the Turkish border.
Huge crowds of refugees, mainly women and children, have beenforced to wait at the Oncupinar border crossing, which remains closed with onlymedical emergencies allowed through.
"Our objective for now is to keep this wave of migrants onthe other side of Turkey's borders as much as is possible, and to provide themwith the necessary services there," Kurtulmus said.
The Turkish government has insisted for several days that itsopen-door policy to refugees fleeing the Syrian war remains unchanged and thatit is ready, if necessary, to accommodate a new wave of arrivals.
"Obviously, as always, we will provide for our Syrian brothersand accept them when necessary," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told ajoint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
But he added that his country, which is hosting some 2.7 millionSyrian refugees, should not be expected "to shoulder the refugee issuealone."