Greek police fire teargas at migrants amassed on Turkish border
Greek police fired on Saturday tear gas at migrants gathered at a border crossing in northwest Turkey, where thousands of migrants have attempted to cross into the EU, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.
Migrants and Greek police clashed along the Turkish-Greek border in the Turkish state of Edirne, with Greek authorities claiming they blocked 4,000 refugees from "illegally" entering the EU, it said.
The clashes follow a statement by Ankara on Friday that it would no longer prevent refugees from going to Europe after at least 36 Turkish fighters were killed in Syria's last-rebel held province of Idlib.
Neighbouring countries Greece and Bulgaria have boosted border patrols in response.
"Greek border police have been frequently firing pepper/tear gas to hold people back," DW Turkey correspondent Julia Hahn, who is at the border, said on Twitter.
We are at the #Turkey-#Greece border - Greek border police have been frequently firing pepper/tear gas to hold people back. It got very crowded, many have spent the night here in freezing temperatures. More refugees and migrants are arriving, hoping to cross into Europe. pic.twitter.com/b4qdICev3q— Julia Hahn (@juliahahntv) February 29, 2020
"People here are from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, not many Syrians. They ask us reporters: ‘When will they open the border?’" she said.
"Hundreds of migrants" attempted to enter no-man's land, the DW correspondent said. "Some have tears in their eyes, are coughing, some look like they're about to faint".
Greek government Spokesman Stelios Petsas has vowed to "do whatever it takes to protect its borders".
Experts are warning of migrant casualties in the Aegean Sea following Turkey’s decision to end preventing its refugees from leaving for Europe under an aid-linked deal with the EU in 2016.
Possible tragic cases of Alan Kurdi will increase in the sea if refugee crossings multiply, the president of Ankara-based immigration think tank, İGAM, told Duvar news site.
The picture of 3-year-old Syrian refugee, Kurdi, whose dead body washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015 as he fled Syria for Greece with his family, became a symbol of Europe’s migrant crisis.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday reiterated a threat to allow refugees to travel on to Europe from Turkey, saying Turkey could no longer handle new waves of people fleeing the war-torn neighbouring country of Syria.