Refugees fleeing Syria’s war are being shot dead by Turkish border forces, it was reported last night.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 16 migrants, including three children, had been killed in the past four months as they tried to cross into Turkey.
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.
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.
For years Syrians could easily cross the border without a passport through what has been dubbed the ‘jihadist highway.’
It’s believed the intense crackdown started in December, not long after the EU stepped up pressure on the country to get more control over the situation.
How this report will affect the recent deal reached between the EU and Turkey, which agreed to take back all migrants that made it to Greece in exchange for financial aid and other incentives, remains to be seen.