On Sunday, thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing from fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamic State militants in the northern part of the country crossed into Turkey, throwing their belongings over a barbed-wire fence before finally cutting a hole in it for easier access.
Kurdish officials say the fighting is intense near Tal Abyad, a town held by ISIS that is 50 miles north of the Islamic State's de facto capital Raqqa. If the Kurds take over the town, ISIS would lose a supply line for fighters and supplies from Turkey, The New York Times reports. Several refugees from the area waited on the Syrian side of the border starting on Saturday, and Turkish troops were overwhelmed once they began to cross into the village of Akcakale. Backup quickly arrived to prevent the refugees from getting deeper into Turkey.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Earlier on Sunday, Turkey's deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, said the refugees were fleeing possible bombings by the U.S.-led coalition, not fighting between ISIS and the Kurds. "We are of the opinion there isn't a humanitarian tragedy there," he told CNN-Turk television. "Our priority is for them to remain within their border. We will continue to provide humanitarian aid to them." The state-run Anadolu Agency reports that several hours later, Turkey opened its border for 2,500 more refugees, but ISIS militants stationed there prevented them from crossing.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.