Turkish border guards shot at Syrians who attempted to seek refuge and peace by crossing the border.
The United Nations stated that around 247,000 Syrians were moved into the border area from December 15 to January 15.
The deputy director of the North Africa division and Human Rights Watch’s Middle East, Lama Fakih, commented, “As fighting in Idlib and Afrin displaces thousands more, the number of Syrians trapped along the border willing to risk their lives to reach Turkey is only likely to increase.”
Fakih said that the Syrians who were trying to leave the Idlib province because of its violence and cruelty “are being forced back with bullets and abuse.”
Since Turkey’s military shifted into northern Syria, tensions began to grow near the Turkey-Syria border. These advances made by Turkey created more of a struggle between the rivalry that has been going on for about seven years.
Even though Turkey gives asylum to around 3.5 million Syrian refugees (more than any other country in the world) their “generous hosting of large numbers of Syrians does not absolve it of its responsibility to help those seeking protection at its borders,” said the Human Rights Watch.
16 Syrian refugees that successfully made it into Turkey last year were spoken to by the Human Rights Watch (the same group who reported these accounts). 13 of the refugees stated that they were being shot at by Turkish border guards as they tried to escape Syria.
10 people, one of whom was a child, were killed. Their statements revealed that Turkish border guards would fire into the air, but wouldn’t shoot at the people in another border crossing.
Twelve different families that the rights group had talked to stated that they were sent to a camp with other Syrians and then were sent back to Syria.
The Human Rights Watch helped recount what happened by saying, “Turkish border guards placed them in a large square where they would remain until the guards had collected enough people to send back to Syria. Three families estimated that the square could fit up to a thousand people and usually had hundreds in it.”
Reaching Turkey isn’t as simple as most people would think. Syrians would put all their money into trying to escape, often paying $300 to $8,000 to smugglers willing to help them get to Turkey. On top of that, they had to go over land “littered with landmines, steep climbs, narrow paths along ravines, and valleys.” So, they risked everything to reach Turkey.
Unfortunately, the southeastern part of Syria faced issues with the Kurdish people. Turkey doesn’t want the creation of a Kurdish state near the Syrian border and have even used the military to stop the Kurds and ISIS in the country.