Turkish border guards have killed nine members of a Syrian family, who were trying to cross the frontier and take refuge in the neighboring country.
The deadly incident took place near the village of Kherbet Eljoz in Syria’s Idlib Province on Saturday night as the Turkish forces opened fire on the refugees, leaving eight more Syrians injured.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source told The New Arab news website that the victims were among several families displaced from the city of Jarablus in Syria’s Aleppo Province.
“Turkish border guards opened fire on them indiscriminately, killing nine people and wounding eight others,” the source said, adding that the dead were “all from one family – three children, four women and a man,” who fled Jarablus due to fighting.
It was not the first time that the Turkish border guards employed force against Syrians uprooted from their homes, with activists saying that at least 50 asylum seekers have been killed on the Turkish border in the past few months.
Back in May, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report that in March and April 2016, five people, including a child, were killed and 14 others were seriously injured as a result of Turkish soldiers’ shootings and beatings.
Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at the New York-based rights organization, said the Turkish soldiers are “killing and beating” refugees.
“Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling,” he added.
Turkey, however, rejected the accusation, claiming that it is welcoming Syrian refugees.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Damascus regards a number of countries as the main supporters of the militants fighting the government forces in the Arab country.
Turkey, which is hosting 2.7 million Syrian refugees, closed its borders to the asylum seekers around a year ago, but permitted entry for critical medical cases and humanitarian organizations.
Ankara and the European Union sealed a contentious agreement in March in a bid to tackle Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.
Under the deal, the 28-nation bloc will take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from the country and in return will reward Ankara with money, visa exemption and progress in its EU membership negotiations.
Ankara is known as a staunch supporter of the terrorist groups operating to topple the Syrian government.