More than 130,000 Syrian Kurds fleeing an advance by Islamic State militants have crossed into Turkey in the past three days and the authorities are preparing for more, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said today. We are prepared for the worst scenario, which is an influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees, Kurtulmus told reporters in the capital Ankara.
Agony across border
The 19 yearold Kurdish militant, who has been fighting the Islamic State group in Syria, has brought his family across the border into Turkey to safety. But in the tranquility of a Turkish tea garden just miles from the frontier, Dalil Boras vowed to head back after nightfall to continue the fight.
Pulling a wad of Syrian bills from his pocket, the young fighter who has already lost a 17yearold brother to the Islamic militants’ brutal advance yesterday said that if the Turkish border guards tried to stop him, money would persuade them. Boras and his relatives are among some 100,000 Syrians, mostly Kurds, who have flooded into Turkey since Thursday, escaping an Islamic State offensive that has pushed the conflict nearly within eyeshot of the Turkish border.
The alQaida breakaway group, which has established an Islamic state, or caliphate, ruled by its harsh version of Islamic law in territory it captured straddling the SyriaIraq border, has in recent days advanced into Kurdish regions of Syria that border Turkey, where fleeing refugees yesterday reported atrocities that included stonings, beheadings and the torching of homes.
Yesterday, heavy clashes broke out between the Islamic State militants and Kurdish fighters only miles from the Syrian border town of Kobani, where the Islamic State group was bombarding villagers with tanks, artillery and multiple rocket launchers, said Nasser Haj Mansour, a defense official in Syria’s Kurdish region.
They are even targeting civilians who are fleeing, Haj Mansour said. At a border crossing where Turkish authorities were processing the refugees, Osman Abbas said he and 20 relatives were fleeing a village near Kobani when Islamic State fighters shot one of his sons. The 35yearold had tried to return to their home to recover valuables while the rest of the family fled. They took our village, they took our house, they killed my son, Abbas said. I saw it with my own eyes.
As refugees flooded in, Turkey closed the border crossing at Kucuk Kendirciler to Turkish Kurds in a move aimed at preventing them from joining the fight in Syria. A day earlier, hundreds of Kurdish fighters had poured into Syria through the small Turkish village, according to the Britainbased Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Clashes broke out as Kurds trying to approach the crossing from inside Turkey scuffled with security forces, who responded with tear gas, paint pellets and water cannons. The staterun Anadolu Agency said the Kurdish protesters had hurled stones at the security forces.
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