Turkish border forces have shot dead refugees as they tried to escape the Syrian conflict, according to reports.
A UK-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has claimed that 16 people seeking sanctuary in Turkey have been shot over the past four months.
The Mail Online reports: The true number is believed to be higher, according to a Syrian police officer and a Syrian smuggler who lives in Turkey, but it is impossible to say exactly how many because the bodies of those who fell on the Syrian side of the border were dragged back to be buried in the war zone.
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The observatory details how a man and his child were killed in Ras al-Ain – on the eastern stretch of the Syria-Turkey border – on February 6. And two refugees were then shot dead at Guvveci on the western stretch of the border on March 5, The Times reported.
According to the smuggler, refugees who cross the border will now ‘either be killed or captured’.
He added: ‘Turkish soldiers used to help the refugees across, carry their bags for them. Now they shoot at them.’
The luckiest ones, the smuggler said, are those who fall on the Turkish side of the border after being shot. They are taken to a Turkish hospital for treatment and allowed to stay in the country.
The crackdown by Turkey is said to have started in December, following pressure from the West to crack down on the movement of migrants towards the EU.
Moscow has called for an investigation. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs human rights chief said that those guilty of shooting refugees on the Turkish-Syrian border should face swift justice if supporting evidence is found. The EU has also warned it will be raising the matter with Ankara.
According to Amnesty International Turkey has also been forcibly returning thousands of Syrian refugees to their war-torn country since the middle of January. The organization said that the move exposes “fatal flaws” in the newly signed agreement between Ankara and the EU.
BREAKING: Turkey is forcing 100s back to Syria while EU pretends it’s safe: https://t.co/AvSMxL6TZp #dealbreaker pic.twitter.com/k0GdJo9EXI
— AmnestyInternational (@AmnestyOnline) April 1, 2016