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June 23, 2017

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Turkey asks Germany for refugee help

BERLIN--Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked Wednesday for German help in grappling with a flood of Syrian refugees, calling the bloody strife across the border a "catastrophe."

Erdogan told reporters after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel that Turkey could not manage the influx on its own.

"We absolutely need the support and assistance of Germany," he said. "At a time when we're searching for global peace, this is of course a catastrophe and we have to stop it."

Merkel acknowledged the situation in Syria had become "a real burden" for Turkey and offered "humanitarian aid" to help cope with the tens of thousands fleeing the bloodshed.

"We feel responsible for the security of Turkey," Merkel said of Germany's NATO partner. She praised what she called Turkey's "restraint" in response to Turkish citizens killed by Syrian fire.

Erdogan's government, a one-time ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, fell out with Damascus after its deadly crackdown on popular dissent that erupted in March last year.

Turkey has since sheltered some 108,000 refugees fleeing the conflict, as well as the exiled Syrian opposition's military and political leadership.

Meanwhile Turkey has systematically retaliated against cross-border shelling since Syrian fire killed five Turks on Oct. 3.

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