Turkish troops have deliberately killed Syrian civilians trying to flee conflict and cross the border to safety, a monitoring group charged on Tuesday, saying the total number of dead on the frontier has risen to 163, including 31 children.
On Monday, in the latest incidents, seven civilians were killed at three spots on the border, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Turkish border has been effectively shut to most refugees since the first quarter of 2015, despite claims from Ankara that it remains open. More than 2 million Syrians already live in Turkey as refugees.
The cumulative effect of the shootings and reported beatings at the border over the past 18 months indicates that ‘there is a decision to prevent Syrian refugees from entering Turkish territories,’ the report said.
‘We call on the Turkish authorities to open safe corridors for Syrian refugees, like the ones opened for the militants,’ the Observatory said.
Turkey is a key backer of Syrian armed opposition groups and allows some to pass through its territory and operate inside the country. For a number of years, the once-porous border was used by people seeking to join armed groups, including extremists.
The monitoring group, which has a network of activists on the ground, called on the United Nations and the European Union to pressure Turkey into changing its policy towards the refugees trying to flee the war. It urged Ankara to prosecute soldiers who shot refugees.
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