Turkey denies border guards shot Syrian civilians

Senior official dismisses a monitoring group’s claim that border guards killed three Syrians trying to cross the border.

Syrians fled from clashes cross Turkey
Turkey has taken in almost two million Syrian refugees since 2011 [Getty]

A senior Turkish official has denied reports that three Syrians who were trying to cross the border into Turkey were killed by Turkish border guards.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that three Syrians had been killed by the guards while trying to enter the country on Friday. 

“Turkish military have no records of such an incident at the country’s border with Syria,” the official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Al Jazeera on Saturday.

“All incidents that happen at the border are recorded by the army.”

At least seven others were also injured by the troops near the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad in al-Raqqa province, Rami Abdelrahman, the Syrian Observatory’s head, told Al Jazeera on Friday.

The Turkish official said that the border crossing on the Tal Abyad side had been closed for sometime.

The Syrian Observatory is a UK-based monitoring group that relies on activists on the ground for information.

Abdelrahman said that witnesses had told him that border guards urged the Syrians to “back off and return” before opening fire on them at close range.

He said that Friday’s deaths were the latest in a wave of lethal shootings by Turkish troops of Syrians attempting to flee their country’s conflict over the last three months.

“Since May 30, at least 29 Syrian civilians have been killed by Turkish border guards,” he said, a claim also denied by the Turkish official.

Turkey, which has registered about two million Syrian refugees since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, continues to see large numbers of Syrians seeking refuge in the country.

Ankara has repeatedly called on the international community to help it deal with the refugee crisis.

Turkey has stepped up its border security amid an ongoing military offensive against fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan’s Workers Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq.

With reporting by Ryan Rifai.

Source: Al Jazeera