Guards on Greece’s northeastern land border with Turkey made “deterrent use” of tear gas to disperse some 500 refugees and migrants trying to enter the country and the European Union after Ankara loosened controls on migrant flows.
Turkish border guards “have disappeared since this morning,” the mayor of the Greek border town of Orestiada, Vassilis Mavridis, said, adding that the group tried to enter through the Kastanies crossing.
This is the first time such a large group of migrants and refugees has attempted a crossing en masse at Evros, a move that Greek authorities are treating as a consequence of the announcement from the Turkish government on Thursday night that it would no longer prevent migrants trying to reach the European Union.
Sources at the border told Kathimerini that patrols have been increased in the area and barbed wire has been laid along the banks of Evros River to ensure that “every centimeter” of the frontier is guarded.
Guards and police have been dispatched to the area from other posts across Thrace and Macedonia, while the Kastanies crossing has been closed, the sources said.
The Coast Guard has also bolstered patrols off the port city of Alexandroupolis to guard the passage from Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula.
A senior Turkish official was cited by Reuters on Thursday as saying that Turkey will no longer stop Syrian refugees from traveling to Europe by land and sea. His comments came as videos posted on social media showed hundreds of refugees displaced by air strikes in Idlib walking toward northwestern Turkey.