13:07 GMT +319 April 2018
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    In this Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 file photo, Kurdish demonstrators, protest against the operation by the Turkish army aimed at ousting the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia from the area in Afrin, Syria, in Rabiyeh, east of Beirut, Lebanon. Syria’s Kurdish militia is growing frustrated with its patron, the United States, and is pressing it to do more to stop Turkey’s assault on Afrin. Their complaints reflect the differing agendas. The Kurds want to ensure their self-rule, while the U.S. wants them to focus on governing the territory they wrested from IS militants.

    Turkey Engaging in Deportations of Syrian Refugees - HRW

    © AP Photo/ Hussein Malla
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    While Turkish President Erdogan has sought to portray his government as supportive of Syrian refugees, human rights monitors have criticized the actions of Turkish security forces towards Syrians trying to escape the fighting.

    Human Rights Watch has criticized the conduct of Turkish security forces on the border with Syria who, it alleges, have been engaging in mass deportations of asylum seekers back to the conflict zone where Turkish forces themselves are now in active combat.

    The organization says it interviewed a number of Syrians who claim to have been deported from posts along the border with the rebel-militant enclave of Idlib. HRW claims to have gathered evidence of at least 100 deportation instances between January in March, some of which involved groups of as many as 500 displaced persons.

    READ MORE: Thousands of Syrians Leave Afrin for Gov't-Controlled Areas Amid Turkish Advance

    One Syrian man interviewed about his alleged experiences in February 2018 said, "Each time they insulted the men, calling them "Syrian traitors." They forced some of them to collect firewood. Then they took all of us in military trucks to a basketball court at a security post near the Hatya border gate. There was also a big tent there. They put us all in the tent and kept us overnight. They didn't give us any food or water or let us go to a proper toilet."

    The Turkish Government responded to HRW's accusations in a letter saying, "Syrians are accepted and taken under protection in Turkey and Syrians who have entered into Turkey somehow and demand protection are definitely not sent back and the reception and registration procedures are carried out. Syrians coming to Turkey are under no circumstances forced to go back to their own country; their registration is continuing and these foreigners can benefit from many rights and services in Turkey."

    Having long given support and sanctuary to armed militant groups fighting against the Syrian army and its allies, Turkey began its own direct military intervention in the country's north with "Operation Olive Branch," in order seize territories held by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). In February it was announced that the Syrian Army supported the YPG against the Turkish intervention in Afrin and that the Kurdish held town of Tell Rifaat had been transferred to Syrian Army control.

    The Syrian army and affiliated forces engaged in an offensive from October to February in order to recapture the north-western province of Idlib from armed rebel groups that have held almost the entire area for two years.

    Related:

    Erdogan: Turkey to Fully Encircle Afrin, Will 'Stomp' on Militants in Iraq
    Turkey Announces Preliminary End Date of Olive Branch Op in Afrin
    Turkey Urges US to Prevent YPG Redeployment From Syria's Manbij to Afrin
    Turkey Sends Special Police Forces to Afrin - Reports
    Turkey Detains 850 Protesters At Rally Against Afrin Operation – Interior Min.
    Tags:
    Turkish policy in Syria, Deportation, mass deportation, refugees, Syrian crisis, YPG, Turkish Armed Forces, Syrian Arab Army, Human Rights Watch, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Afrin, Idlib, Turkey, Syria
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