Turkish border guards have killed and beaten Syrian refugees trying to cross the border, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday, noting that this contradicts the official government claim the border is open.
"While senior Turkish officials claim they are welcoming Syrian refugees with open borders and open arms, their border guards are killing and beating them," said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Five people, including a child, were killed and 14 were seriously injured in March and April, the rights group said, calling the incidents "truly appalling."
Human Rights Watch was also critical of the European Union, which recently struck a deal with Turkey to stem refugee flows to the bloc and effectively drastically cut down on the number of Syrians able to seek asylum in the 28 member states.
“EU officials should recognize that their red light for refugees to enter the EU gives Turkey a green light to close its border, exacting a heavy price on war-ravaged asylum seekers with nowhere else to go," said Simpson
Since last year, Turkey has been pushing back refugees to Syria, the group said.
During recent crises in northern Syria, Turkey has kept its border almost entirely closed to Syrians who were fleeing intense violence, including attacks by the Syrian government on Aleppo and airstrikes on camps for displaced people.