The Kurdish militia YPG has been making advancements toward the Daesh-held border city of Tal Abyad over the last few days. Now reports indicate they’re within a few kilometers of the city, and the Syrians that have been trapped there are making a run for Turkey — Officials say some 13,500 have flowed through the Turkish border amid the violence.
But unlike Turkey’s usual open border policy with Syria, the sharp uptick has pushed the country to limit border access to only "tragic humanitarian cases," according to the Middle East Eye.
Given the number of refugees Turkey has so far taken in — some 1.8 million since 2011 — the strain the country feels is understandable on one level.
But this photo, taken by AFP photographer Bulent Kilic on Sunday, shows another side of the situation that's hard to ignore. Here, Kilic says Turkish border forces are using a water cannon to force thousands of Syrians massed at the border away from the gate.
Meanwhile, the stories behind the image are just as haunting. The Middle East Eye said Syrian women appeared at the border in full black veils and a small satchel of their belongings from Tal Abyad, only to be turned away by Turkish security forces. That evening, several gun-draped Daesh fighters reportedly arrived at the border to try and convince civilians to return to the border city. Some began heading back, but by night fall, the news agency said they'd all returned to the gate, still desperate, apparently, to escape the militants.