Thousands of Syrian refugees trying to enter Turkey have been repelled by Turkish border guards as clashes flare up between Syrian Kurds and the ISIL (also known as Daesh) militants over the control of a town on the Syrian-Turkish border.
Turkish forces on Saturday used water cannon and fired warning shots to disperse massing refugees at a border crossing in the town of Akcakale in southeastern Turkey.
Eyewitnesses said Turkish forces pushed away Syrians who were waiting behind the barbed-wire fences. The new exodus has been triggered by escalated fighting between the Syrian Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units, also known as the YPG, and ISIL over the control of the Syrian town of Tal Abyad.
The YPG fighters announced earlier in the day that they began advancing toward the ISIL-held town, further penetrating into Raqqa Province.
Officials in Ankara had announced on Thursday that they will restrict the flow of the Syrians into the Turkish territory. The announcement came in the wake of the reported arrival of about 13,500 people from Syria over the past days. It was also against a declared policy of “open-doors,” under which Turkey has accepted 1.8 million Syrian refugees since the crisis began in the Arab country in 2011.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has said, however, that Turkey would only consider new entries in case of a humanitarian tragedy in Syria.
The battle over Tal Abyad has increased concerns about an unprecedented influx of refugees being stranded at the Turkish borders. The fighter jets of the so-called international coalition against ISIL is also assisting the YPG in the offensive, prompting fears of ISIL’s assault on civilians as a way of retaliation.
Syrian Kurds have already encircled ISIL in the town of Suluk, about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) southeast of Tal Abyad, retaking 18 villages and eight farms in the vicinity.
[This story has been edited from the source material.]
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