Ankara says Greece is responsible for the deaths of six irregular migrants, including young children, whose boat sunk this week Wednesday during an alleged pushback, with Athens denying the allegations and pointing out that the incident took place in Turkish waters.
According to the Turkish coast guard, six people including young children drowned on Tuesday when an Italy-bound boat carrying irregular migrants from Lebanon sunk off the coast of southwestern Turkey.
Turkish authorities said the incident took place around midnight when a migrant boat was pushed back by the Greek coast guard that left people to die in the water.
In an angry tweet attached to a video, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on Wednesday pointed the finger at Athens, saying both Greece and Europe were responsible for “these massacres.”
“Curse on your humanity! We’re terribly sad to share scenes,” Soylu wrote, while the footage showed disturbing images.
The refugees say the Greeks responded to their refuel call but placed everyone in four lifeboats, with Athens denying pushback allegations and saying the incident took place in Turkish waters
“Another massacre by Greece of migrants and innocent children seeking to cross from Lebanon to Italy,” Soylu wrote, noting the ages of two brothers aged 9 months and 4 years old.
A total of 73 irregular migrants in four life boats were picked up on Tuesday by Turkish rescuers. One woman, three children and two babies died, media reports said, without disclosing the nationalities of the refugees.
Additional reports said rescued refugees, who said they started their journey in Lebanon on Saturday, told media they were on their way to Italy but needed to refuel off the coast of Greek island Rhodes.
According to the allegations, Greeks responded to a call for help coming from the boats and placed everyone in four lifeboats, leaving them near Turkish territorial waters.
But Greek authorities categorically deny any pushback allegations, saying the incident took place in Turkish waters in the sea of Marmaris.
“Hellenic Coast Guard categorically denies the announcement of the Turkish coast guard referring to the alleged involvement in an alleged pushback incident that resulted in the death of six migrants,” the Greek statement said.
Tensions between Greeks and Turks have been running high in recent weeks, with Soylu also accusing Athens of training members of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
On Sunday the Turkish minister also took to Twitter to say a suspected PKK member arrested in Turkey had been trained in Lavrio, in southeastern Attica, adding that the alleged militant was planning terrorist attacks on Turkish territory.
Athens have repeatedly rejected similar allegations from Turkey in the past, with Greek Citizens Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos saying on Monday the claims were “sad and provocative lies” and that “everyone understands that these are totally divorced from reality.”
“Everyone knows that Greeks are strongly united behind our respect for borders, of our international obligations and of human life,” Theodorikakos said.
Last week Washington called on Turkey and Greece “to refrain from rhetoric and actions that could further escalate tensions.”
Curse on your humanity❗— Süleyman Soylu (@suleymansoylu) September 14, 2022
We’re terribly sad to share scenes…
Ano. massacre by Greece to migrants and innocent children sought to cross frm. Lebanon to Italy.
2 brothers, Asım only 9 month and Abdulvahab only 4 years old
Europe and Greece!
You are in charge of these massacres pic.twitter.com/dg25FnFTS5