Syrians risk everything to cross into Turkey

Syrians risk everything to cross into Turkey
Syrians face freezing weather and capture by border guards as they continue attempts to cross into Turkey.
2 min read
14 February, 2019
Syrians rushing over the Turkish border in 2016 (Getty)
Turkish border guards recovered the bodies of eight Syrians who died of cold on Sunday. Reports said the refugees had lost their way attempting to cross from Syria into Turkey and froze to death.   

Despite such tragedies, many Syrians continue to risk the dangers of trying to cross into Turkey, especially in the province of Hatay, a key point for Syrian entry into Turkey, with the help of smuggler networks operating in the area. 

Mourad Khadr, who failed to enter Turkey around a month ago, told The New Arab details of his journey from north Syria to Turkish territory: 

"We used wooden ladders to climb over the wall, and tried to find a safe area in Syria where the guards couldn’t arrest us and send us back," he said.

"One of the women was stuck in the mud behind us, and soldiers discovered where we were, arrested us and sent us back to Syria in the morning. The flight was dangerous… it's a great risk."

Anwar, 27, from the Damascus countryside, tried more than once to cross the border wall into Turkey.

"In the last attempt I broke my leg, and now cannot try again. I live with my wife and daughter in the town of Darkush [near the border], waiting until I am fully healed to decide what to do next. But I do not think I want to try to go through the smuggling routes again."

Turkish security forces have frequently detained and summarily deported thousands of Syrian asylum seekers at the Turkish-Syrian border since December 2017, according to Human Rights Watch.

Armed personnel have also reportedly shot and killed asylum seekers who tried to enter Turkey via smuggling routes. Ankara sees the Kurdish militias which held much of northern Syria as an extension of the PKK, an armed group which has fought a bloody insurgency against Turkey for more than three decades, and is highly wary of attempts to "infiltrate" its southern border.

Many of the asylum-seekers, however, come from Idlib, which is mostly controlled by Turkish-allied Syrian rebels. Here, more than 400,000 civilians have been displaced due to the Russian-Syrian offensive against rebels in the area.

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