Eight Syrians including women and young children have been shot dead by Turkish border guards while trying to flee their war-torn homeland, according to numerous reports from the region.
According to London’s Daily Mail, a group of refugees were trying to cross into Turkey via a mountain smuggling route when they were gunned down by Turkish forces patrolling the border.
Abdmunem Kashkash, a lawyer from Aleppo who was with the group but managed to cross into Turkey unharmed, said Turkish border guards are ‘killing unarmed people’ every day.
‘There was one little girl who was shot and we could not do more for her for four hours, until nightfall,’ he said. ‘An old man and woman are missing – they have probably been killed too.’
Those who have been injured while desperately trying to flee Syria have been taken to a hospital in Azaz – a rebel-held town next to the Turkish border where 10,000 displaced people are sheltering.
The deaths appear to confirm claims made by the Human Rights Watch last week that Turkish guards of opening fire on civilians as they approached the country’s border wall with Syria.
Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: ‘As civilians flee ISIS fighters, Turkey is responding with live ammunition instead of compassion. The whole world is talking about fighting ISIS, and yet those most at risk of becoming victims of its horrific abuses are trapped on the wrong side of a concrete wall.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed last month how at least 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.
Human Rights Watch quoted a refugee who survived a shooting ordeal after fleeing a camp that was overcome by ISIS fighters.
“At dawn we heard gunshots near the camp. A short while later ISIS arrived and used a loudspeaker to tell us we all had to leave. They said we had nothing to fear and that we should all go east, into ISIS territory. We left the camp but headed north through olive groves toward the Turkish border. We were about 2,000 people. As we approached the border wall we saw Turkish soldiers on a hill behind the wall and they just started shooting at us. They shot at our feet and everyone just turned round and ran in all directions. I took my family and we walked to another [displaced persons] camp nearby, called al-Rayan. We’re afraid now because ISIS is close to this camp too. But where can we go.”