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Turkish border guards fire at Syrian refugees: Rights group

A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighter stands guard at a checkpoint in the Syrian town

Ankara, Feb 4 (UITV/IANS) -Turkish border guards are firing at the Syrians who attempt to flee the violence and seek refuge in Turkey, an official of the Human Rights Watch said.

"Syrian asylum seekers leaving the brutality of Idlib province in northwest Syria are being forced back with bullets and abuse," CNN quoted Lama Fakih, Deputy Director Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, as saying on Saturday.

About 247,000 Syrians were displaced to the border area from December 15 to January 15, according to the United Nations.

"As fighting in Idlib and Afrin displaces thousands more, the number of Syrians trapped along the border willing to risk their lives to reach Turkey is only likely to increase," Fakih said.

Despite the fact that Turkey accommodates more Syrian refugees than any other country in the world, hosting around 3.5 million, Human Rights Watch said: "Turkey's generous hosting of large numbers of Syrians does not absolve it of its responsibility to help those seeking protection at its borders."

The accusation against the Turkish border guards comes amid rising tensions along the Turkey-Syria border as Turkey's military has moved into northern Syria.

Turkey's incursion has opened up another front in the Syrian conflict which is now in its seventh year.

Of the 16 Syrian refugees who were smuggled into Turkey last year, 13 said that Turkish border guards shot at them and other asylum seekers as they tried to flee Syria.