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Refugees and migrants gather at the Turkish-Greek land border Refugees and migrants gather at the Turkish-Greek land border  (ANSA)

Greece secures border as migrants leave Turkey

Pope Francis asked for prayers on Sunday for scores of migrants and refugees, previously sheltered in Turkey, who are heading towards Europe. The exodus comes as the Greek government raises its border security levels and the migrants attempt to access the EU after Ankara's decision to relax restrictions.

By Nathan Morley

A Turkish news agency cited a government minister as saying 76,300 irregular migrants left Turkey and headed toward Europe as of Sunday morning.

Most are thought to be from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

When Turkish officials announced they would no longer try block irregular migrants from reaching Europe, thousands of migrants flocked to Pazarkule, a border crossing with Greece.

The European border force Frontex on 'high alert' and has positioned officers along the Greece-Turkey border and on the Greek islands.

Turkey is currently home to over 3.5 million migrants from Syria, more than any other country. Ankara has repeatedly complained that Brussels has failed to keep its promises under the 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal designed to help migrants and stem further migrant waves into Europe.

In a separate development, the Turkish Air Force shot down two Syrian jets in Idlib on Sunday, as clashes between the two countries escalated.

The pilots ejected safely, according to the Syrian state news agency. 

Listen to the report by Nathan Morley
01 March 2020, 16:12