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Greece Accuses Turkey of Using Tear Gas to Help Refugees Breach Border

A Turkish soldier stands guard on the Turkish-Syrian border in Akcakale in Sanliurfa Province, Turkey, October 30, 2019. (Kemal Aslan/Reuters)

Greek officials have accused Turkey of creating chaos at the border in order to give thousands of migrants the opportunity to breach the border and cross into Europe.

A video clip released by Athens purports to show Turkish riot police behind shields firing tear gas towards Greece, allegedly to disrupt Greek border authorities and allow the migrants a chance to cross the border.

Last week, Turkey suspended its obligations under a 2016 agreement with the European Union to keep migrants in Turkey in exchange for aid from the E.U. Turkey has promised to allow hundreds of thousands more migrants to leave for Europe in the coming days. Meanwhile, the E.U. does not have a comprehensive asylum policy in place to deal with the influx.

However, Turkish authorities claimed they were simply protecting the migrants after Greece began shooting at the refugees, killing at least four, an accusation Greece has denied.

“The Turkish police were responding with tear gas to Greek police firing bullets at the migrants. Turkish police never targeted the migrants, they aimed to protect the migrants from Greek fire,” a Turkish security official said, according to Reuters.

Greek riot police did, however, deploy tear gas and a water cannon against the migrants.

“Our first priority is making sure that order is maintained at Greece’s external border, which is also Europe’s border,’’ said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.

The E.U. has promoted the right to seek asylum under international law, but Greece has suspended that right temporarily as it addresses the flood of migrants from Turkey. E.U. officials are reportedly in talks with Turkey about offering further aid for handling the large migrant population there.

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