Reports: Turkish forces killed refugees (including children) fleeing from ISIL areas of Syria

by WorldTribune Staff, June 19, 2016

Turkish border guards shot and killed at least eight Syrians, including four children, who were fleeing areas controlled by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), reports said.

The Syrians were gunned down “while trying to flee their war-torn country” on June 19, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Child refugees fleeing ISIL in Syria. /Reuters/File
Child refugees fleeing ISIL in Syria. /Reuters/File

The National Coalition umbrella opposition group – based in Istanbul and backed by Turkey – reported a higher toll of 11 killed in the “terrible tragedy.”

Turkey denies its security forces have fired on Syrians trying to cross the border, but the Observatory said it has “recorded numerous incidents this year,” and said the June 19 toll was among the highest. At least 60 people – all civilians – have been killed by Turkish border guards this year, the Observatory said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied the report. The Turkish army says it only fires at armed smugglers, not at civilians.

The Observatory said the eight Syrians fled the northern Syrian town of Manbij, held by ISIL and currently under attack by U.S.-backed forces. They fled northwest towards Idlib province and the border, but were killed “when Turkish border guards opened fire on them as they tried to cross into Turkey.”

Turkey hosts some 2.7 million refugees from the conflict in Syria.