Refugees shot dead by Turkish border forces

Refugees are being shot by Turkish border guards as they flee civil war in Syria.

A UK-based monitoring group has said at least 16 people have been shot dead over the past four months although the actual figure was believed to be higher. The number includes three children.

A refugee child waits beyond a gate for a border crossing. Turkey's change in policy came after pressure from the West to shut its Syrian borderReuters

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described how a man and his child were killed on the Syria-Turkish border on February 6. A further two were then killed at another stretch of the border on March 5, according to the Times.

One smuggler told the Times refugees who crossed the border would "either be killed or captured".

He added: "Turkish soldiers used to help the refugees across, carry their bags for them. Now they shoot at them."

The change in Ankara's policy came in December after pressure from the West to close the border, which had become known as the "jihadist highway". Large numbers of fighters were believed to have used the route to travel to Syria and join ISIS and other rebel groups.

Under the latest EU deal, migrants and refugees who crossed illegally into Greece will be returned to Turkey. In return, for every person shipped back, European countries will accept one refugee directly from camps in Turkey.

One of the bases for the deal was the understanding of Turkey as a "safe third country" for refugees to be returned to, an assumption thrown into doubt by these revelations.