Anti-refugee sentiment grows in Turkey as government begins to send Syrians back

For The Los Angeles Times


When Amjad Tablieh went out to buy some groceries one night this week, he thought it would be a quick trip. But when police stopped him to ask for his identification card, known as a kimlik, all he had in his pocket was about $5 in cash.

The 18-year-old student from Damascus is one of a half-million Syrian refugees officially registered to live in Istanbul. But increasingly, he and others are finding that their welcome is fraying, and Turks want them to go back to the war-ravaged country they fled.

“I told the police officer my kimlik is at home, it’s a 15-minute walk away and I can go get it, but he didn’t want to listen,” Tablieh said in an interview.

Shoved onto a waiting bus, Tablieh said he watched as it filled up with other migrants. They were taken to a police station outside the city, where Tablieh says he and the others were beaten and forced to sign a document they were not allowed to read.

The bus then carried them south toward the Syrian border. Less than 24 hours after he stepped out to buy bread, Tablieh found himself in the Syrian northwestern province of Idlib, the rebel enclave that is under siege by a fierce, Russian-backed Syrian government offensive.

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