Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan speaks during an interview at his office at Cankaya in Ankara on March 1, 2016. / AFP / ADEM ALTAN
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Turkey's powerful Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan Tuesday criticized the United States over its Syria strategy, charging that it was relying on Kurdish fighters he described as a "small terror organization".Akdogan acknowledged Turkey was seeking to create an eight- to 10-kilometre (five- to six-mile) "humanitarian aid belt" between its border gate and the Syrian flashpoint town of Azaz to house refugees.Turkey, now home to some 2.7 million Syrian refugees, has long pressed for a safe zone, backed up by a no-fly zone, to protect its borders and provide shelter for refugees on Syrian soil. Akdogan said Turkey's "open-border" policy remained in place and an estimated 150,000 Syrians were housed in 10 camps on the Syrian side of the border.Akdogan said Turkey was left alone to deal with the refugee problem and added that it was a contradiction for the European Union to tell Turkey to keep open its southern border but to shut the western border.
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