Tuesday 26 September 2017

Thousands escape Isil by swarming border

A man carries a girl as Syrians fleeing the war pass through broken-down border fences to enter Turkish territory illegally
A man carries a girl as Syrians fleeing the war pass through broken-down border fences to enter Turkish territory illegally

Lefteris Pitarakis

Thousands of Syrians cut through a border fence and crossed over into Turkey, fleeing intense fighting in northern Syria between Kurdish fighters and Isil jihadis.

The flow of refugees came as Syrian Kurdish fighters closed in on the outskirts of a strategic Isil-held town on the Turkish border, potentially cutting off a key supply line for the extremists’ nearby de facto capital.

In the Turkish border village of Akcakale, the refugees took by surprise the Turkish troops stationed there, who were overwhelmed by the large number of people crowding the crossing.

Thousands of people had been gathering for more than a day on the Syrian side of the border crossing before they broke through yesterday.

People threw their belongings over the fence while others passed infants into Turkey over barbed wires before following through a several-metres wide opening in the border fence.

Turkish troops later brought in reinforcements and gathered up the refugees on the Turkish side of the border, preventing them from going deeper into Turkey.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus claimed the refugees were not fleeing fighting between Kurds and the Isil, but were rather trying to escape to Turkey in case their villages are hit by US-led coalition bombings.

He said Turkey was providing humanitarian aid to them on the other side of the border while taking in anyone who is sick or injured. Kurtulmus said Turkey has taken in more than two million refugees since 2011.

Irish Independent

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