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HRW reveals Turkey’s ‘mass deportation’ of Syrians

File photo shows a Syrian refugee trying to send an infant over a broken border fence into Turkey.

Human Right Watch (HRW) says Turkish forces routinely stop and send back groups comprising hundreds or thousands of displaced Syrians, opening fire on them on many occasions.

In a Thursday report, the New York-based body said the pattern was being witnessed since at least last December. The externally-displaced Syrians are then forced to return to the violence-ravaged province of Idlib, which holds large concentrations of Takfiri terrorists, it said.

 As many as 1.3 million other Syrians are already stranded in the northwestern Syrian province.

The organization said Turkey had started preventing Syrian asylum seekers from even legally crossing its border since at least mid-2015.

The report was based on interviews with 21 Syrians, who had recounted how the forces would repeatedly block their entry into Turkey.

Another 35 Syrians told the HRW that they would not try to escape Idlib for fear of being shot by the border guards.

Syrian children play outside their destroyed school in the Frikeh village in the northwestern city of Idlib's western countryside, February 18, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Nine Syrians interviewed described a total of 10 shooting incidents between last September and this March, in which, they said, 14 people were killed and 18 others injured.

EU complicity

The HRW said Turkey’s anti-refugee measures “has been reinforced by a controversial EU-Turkey March 2016 migration agreement to curb refugee and migration flows to the European Union.”

It urged the EU to “instead be working with Turkey to keep its borders open to refugees, providing financial support for Turkey’s refugee efforts, and sharing responsibility by stepping up resettlement of refugees from Turkey.”

The report, however, hailed Turkey for hosting over 3.5 million Syrian refugees, according to the UN refugee agency, saying, “Turkey deserves credit and support for its generosity.”

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