Some 500 Syrian refugees have been forced to flee a makeshift housing in Turkey’s western Izmir province after being violently attacked by locals who burnt their tents.
The attack took place in Izmir’s Torbali district on Saturday after reports claiming that a local child had been beaten by the Syrians.
A mob of around 300 Turkish people, armed with knives and clubs, stormed into the makeshift housing and set fire to refugees’ tents.
Local media reports said 40 tents were destroyed in the fighting and about 30 people were injured, one of them identified as 22-year-old Mustafa critically. The wounded were all taken to hospital.
“It was impossible to stop the neighborhood. They are full of rage. We don’t want Syrians in our area. Problems have increased since they arrived,” Ali Curukcu, the local headman, was quoted as saying by the Turkish Dogan news agency.
Images showed there were no police officers at the site.
The Syrian refugees were seen walking on the highway towards Izmir’s Tire neighborhood as no driver took them to their destination. Angry Turkish citizens also closed the highway for some time.
During the early years of the war in neighboring Syria, Turkey had an open-door policy and allowed Syrian refugees into the country as it also let extremists from around the world travel to the Arab country to topple the government.
Although Turkey says it still maintains its open-door policy, the number of Syrian refugees allowed in during the past two years has dwindled considerably, with many saying the borders are essentially closed to refugees.
The high number of Syrian refugees in Turkish towns and cities has led to multiple instances of a serious nature, including clashes in the past.
Many locals also revile them and the Turkish government only provides assistance to those staying in officially sanctioned camps.
Ankara does not even grant Syrians refugee status and they only have temporary protection status as guests. Turkey does not accept refugees from non-European countries.
Turkey has been a staunch supporter of a campaign pushed by Western countries and their regional allies to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011. Ankara has allowed militants from around the world to freely enter Syria and wreak havoc in the Arab country.