A Syrian man, one of a group of 150 mainly Syrian refugees who crossed the River Meriç from Turkey into Greece but were sent back by Greek troops on 24 August, says that 45 of the group were then thrown into the river by Turkish soldiers and that five of them drowned, MA reports
The incident became known when Sad al-Delil, a Syrian refugee who was one of those thrown into the river, applied to the Istanbul Branch of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD).
Al-Delil said that Turkish soldiers spotted them at the border and said to them, “Turkish soldiers are falling as martyrs in Syria, and you think of going to Europe!” He states that the soldiers then threw 45 men from the group of refugees into the River Meriç and that five of them drowned.
Al-Delil explained that he had managed to cross to Greece in a group of 150 refugees on 23 August, but they were detained by Greek police and sent back across the river to Turkish territory on 24 August. He said Turkish soldiers saw them walking from the border to Edirne town on foot. A commander said to them: “Turkish soldiers are falling as martyrs in Syria, and you think of going to Europe! Then go to Europe!” and separated 45 men, including himself, from the group.
Al-Delil said that the 45 men were thrown into the River Meriç by soldiers in groups of five. “I was in danger of drowning 10-15 minutes after starting to swim. Two Palestinians saved me.” He said that 14 people managed to cross into Greece.
He said, “I saw five people drown.”
It has been reported that three of the drowned refugees were Syrians and two were from Afghanistan. The 14 people who crossed into Greece were sent back to Turkey again by the Greek police and returned to Istanbul.
Al-Delil said that he does not know the name of the commander who threw them into the river, but he described the incident as follows:
“There are other people like me who witnessed what happened. We’ll tell you everything. I saw death with my own eyes. That commander’s attitude was completely discriminatory. We said ‘don’t throw us in the river, send us to Idlib’, but he threw us into the river, took a video recording and smiled and waved goodbye to us.”