Turkish Security Forces Clash With Kurds Fleeing Islamic State

Turkey temporarily closes border with Syria; refugees pile on Syrian side.

The Associated Press
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Syrian Kurds carry their belongings after they crossed the border between Syria and Turkey near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, on September 20, 2014.Credit: AFP
The Associated Press

Turkish security forces on Sunday fired tear gas, water and paint pellets on dozens of Kurds in a village on the border with Syria, which tens of thousands of refugees have crossed to escape the Islamic State group.

The sound of gunfire could be heard from the Syrian side of the frontier where refugees were piling up after authorities temporarily closed the border.

Police on the ground said they were seeking to prevent Kurdish fighters from entering Syria. However, Private NTV television said the Kurds claimed they wanted to take aid into Syria. The state-run Anadolu Agency reported Kurdish protesters had hurled stones at the security forces.

The UN refugee agency on Sunday said some 70,000 Syrians have crossed into Turkey in the past 24 hours. They are seeking refuge from Islamic State militants who have barreled through dozens of Kurdish villages in the Kobani area in northern Syria, near the Turkish border.

Mohammed Osman Hamme, a middle-aged Syrian Kurdish refugee who managed to make his way across, told The Associated Press he fled with his wife and small children from the village of Dariya in Raqqa province 10 days ago after hearing that the Islamic State group was headed their way.

The family walked for three days, passing the town of Tell Abiad, near the Turkish border, where they saw four severed heads hanging in the streets, he said.

During the interview a tear gas gun went off, causing Hamme's terrified daughter to start screaming. Later Turkish police used armored cars to push people back from the village.

Hamme said all that remained of his possession was a big plastic bag and a grain sack.

The Syrian Kurdish militia, YPG, was too far away to help, he said.

UNHCR spokeswoman, Selin Unal, said most of those coming across the border near Syria's northern town of Kobani are Kurdish women, children and elderly.

She urged the international community to step up its aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey, already numbering some 1.5 million.

"Turkey is assisting with all needs but it's huge numbers," she said.