Amid heightened tensions on the Turkish-Greek border between migrants trying to cross to Europe and the Greek security aiming to prevent them, several rubber boats were targeted by Greece with the hope that they would sink.
“The Greek Coast Guard officials performed maneuvers aimed at sinking the rubber boat en route to Greece carrying irregular migrants off the Bodrum district of Muğla province,” a Turkish official stated Monday.
“They opened fire afterward. Later on, irregular migrants in the rubber boat were hit by long sticks used for maneuvers,” the official said. “Migrants, who were left in a tight spot in the sea by the Greek Coast Guard, were saved by a Turkish Coast Guard boat.”
As a “measure” against the crossings, Greece border police use tear gas and stun grenades. The police also arrested dozens of refugees for attempting to enter the country.
Thousands of migrants on Monday tried to find a way across Turkey's land border into Greece, which has made clear its borders will remain closed. Dozens managed to pass through either border fences or fording the river there. As Greek police fired tear gas, a group of several hundred holding white flags shouted “peace, peace,” asking to be let into Greece. Others were trying to reach Greek islands from the coast of Turkey.
Last week, Turkish authorities announced that they would no longer prevent the flow of migrants who wanted to reach Europe.
The decision was made after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed by Bashar Assad regime forces in Idlib in northwestern Syria. The Turkish soldiers were deployed to the region to protect local civilians under a 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited.
Turkey already hosts some 3.7 million migrants from Syria alone, more than any other country in the world.
The nation has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.