Turkey denies its guards killed Syrian refugees trying to cross border
Turkish border guards watch as smoke rises from an airstrike in Syria. (AFP/File)
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Turkey on Sunday denied reports from a monitoring group that its guards had killed eight Syrian civilians, including two women and four children, while they were trying to cross the Turkish border from their war-torn country.
Such reports were false, a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, adding that actions on the border were aimed at halting suspected traffickers and militants.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had said earlier that the civilians had been killed Saturday night near the town of Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib province of north-western Syria near the Turkish border. Eight people were injured in the incident, some seriously.
Syrian opposition news site Orient News reported 11 deaths. Neither report could be independently verified.
The Syrian Observatory added that the latest deaths raised to 60 the number of civilians who have been killed by Turkish guards while trying to enter Turkey this year. They included eight children.
There was no official Turkish comment. The Turkish-backed Syrian opposition leadership body, the National Coalition, said it had requested a clarification and steps to ensure there was no repetition of the incident.
Turkey claims it has an open-border policy for Syrians, while Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Ankara closed the border in August 2015.
The process of getting into Turkey is highly selective, and tens of thousands of people are stranded on the Syrian side.
Turkey hosts more than 2 million Syrian refugees.
In April, Human Rights group Amnesty International reported that Turkish security forces had shot and injured civilians, including children, who "out of desperation have attempted to cross the border unofficially with the help of smugglers."
Turkey backs rebels who are fighting to oust the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material.
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