Syrian opposition coalition denies deportations of refugees from Turkey

A Turkish-backed Syrian opposition coalition has released a statement denying news reports that Syrian asylum seekers have been deported from Turkey.

The Turkish authorities began a crackdown on undocumented migrants this month, leading to a string of reports in international media outlets and social media that Syrians who had fled the Syrian conflict to seek safety in Turkey had been transported back across the border.

Turkish officials say they have transported Syrians, who are in Turkey under a special “temporary protection” status, to the province they are registered in or to special refugee camps. They deny deporting the asylum seekers, which would be a breach of international law prohibiting refoulement.

The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, an Istanbul headquartered umbrella group that includes Turkish-backed Syrian opposition factions, released a statement on Friday supporting the Turkish government’s statements.

“According to the information we have received from relevant authorities concerning recent developments, certain allegations published in the international press and on social media do not reflect the truth”, the statement said.

“As stated by the Turkish authorities to us at the highest level, in Turkey there is no operation targeting Syrians with the aim of deporting them”, it said.

The statement was received with scepticism by social media users, with some remarking that it had sacrificed its credibility by taking simply repeating the Turkish authorities’ statements.

“With this press statement, @SyrianCoalition may have just burned its reputation amongst so many of its #Syria constituents”, Middle East Institute director Charles Lister said in a tweet.