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Turkey fires tear gas at Greek border guards as refugee standoff continues

Last month, Ankara allowed refugees in Turkey to leave for Europe [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 March, 2020

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A volley of tear gas was fired from the Turkish side of the border after Greek forces used a water cannon to disperse people crowding at the border with Turkey.
Tear gas was fired from Turkey towards Greek border guards on Friday, Reuters reported on Friday, raising tensions as Greece clamps down on refugees trying to enter Europe from Turkey.

Last month, Ankara gave the green light for migrants in Turkey to leave for Europe. Thousands have since massed at the Greek border, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning the new migrant crisis can only be resolved if the European Union supports Ankara's actions against Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria.

Read also: For Syrians fleeing Idlib, there's nowhere left to run

In the Greek border town of Kastanies, a Reuters correspondent saw Greek forces use a water cannon in an attempt to disperse people crowding at the border with Turkey. It was followed by a volley of tear gas from the other side.

"[The] attacks are coordinated by drones," a Greek government official told Reuters. "Apart from intimidation, these attacks are taking place from the Turkish police to help migrants cross the fence border line."

Turkey has said any tear gas it has fired is in response to tear gas fired from Greece. 

"Why would Turkey fire tear gas to the Greek side of the border?" Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu asked. "Greece is firing tear gas at us, they are firing tear gas at our police stations at the border. We are responding to that."

On Thursday, Soylu announced Turkey's deployment of 1,000 police officers to prevent Greece from pushing refugees back.

He added that Turkey would take Greece to the European Court of Human Rights over its actions against refugees.

Turkey has claimed Greece is using live rounds on refugees, saying three have been killed. Greece has denied this.

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