herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Refugee crisis as 130,000 flee IS terror

The number of Syrians who have flooded into Turkey to escape Islamic State (IS) militants has reached 130,000.

Most of them are Kurds, and their arrival since Thursday has pushed the conflict close to the Turkish border.

IS is the al Qaida breakaway group which has established a caliphate, ruled by its harsh version of Islamic law, in territory it captured straddling the Syria-Iraq border.

It has in recent days advanced into Kurdish regions of Syria that border Turkey, where fleeing refugees reported atrocities that included stonings, beheadings and the torching of homes.

Yesterday, heavy clashes broke out between IS militants and Kurdish fighters only miles from the Syrian border town of Kobani.

The IS was bombarding villagers with tanks, artillery and multiple rocket launchers, said Nasser Haj Mansour, a defence official in Syria's Kurdish region.

"They are even targeting civilians who are fleeing," he said.

At a border crossing where Turkish authorities were processing the refugees, Osman Abbas said he and 20 relatives were fleeing a village near Kobani when IS fighters shot one of his sons.

The 35-year-old had tried to return to their home to recover valuables while the rest of the family fled.

"They took our village, they took our house, they killed my son," he said. "I saw it with my own eyes."

As refugees flooded in, Turkey closed the border crossing at Kucuk Kendirciler to Turkish Kurds. Clashes broke out as Kurds trying to approach the crossing from inside Turkey scuffled with security forces, who responded with tear gas, paint pellets and water cannons.

hnews@herald.ie

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