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Thousands Flee Syria as Kurds Fight IS
International

Thousands Flee Syria as Kurds Fight IS

Thousands of Syrians cut through a border fence and crossed over into Turkey on Sunday, fleeing intense fighting in northern Syria between Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants.

The flow of refugees came as Syrian Kurdish fighters closed in on the outskirts of a strategic IS-seized town on the Turkish border, Kurdish officials and an activist group said, potentially cutting off a key supply line for the extremists’ nearby de facto capital.

Taking Tal Abyad, some 80 km north of the IS stronghold of Raqqa Province, would deprive the militant group of a direct route to bring in new foreign militants or supplies. The Kurdish advance, coming under the cover of US-led coalition airstrikes in the area, would also link their two fronts and put even more pressure on Raqqa, AFP reported.

In this Turkish border village, 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 Akcakale border crossing before they broke through Sunday afternoon.

People threw their belongings over the fence while others passed infants into Turkey over barbed wires before following through a several-meter 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.

Earlier Sunday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said the refugees were trying to escape to Turkey in case their villages are hit by US-led coalition bombings.

 

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