Flow of Kurdish refugees into Turkey slows: Official

Some 140,000 mainly Kurdish refugees have now crossed the border into Turkey

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The numbers of Kurdish refugees fleeing into Turkey to escape the advance of Islamic State jihadists in northern Syria has slowed considerably over the last few days, Turkish officials said on Wednesday.

Some 140,000 mainly Kurdish refugees have now crossed the border into Turkey after the militants moved on the town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane to Kurds, late last week.

But after the flight of tens of thousands over the weekend triggered fears of a new refugee crisis, with Turkey already hosting some Syrian 1.5 million refugees from the three-and-a-half year conflict, the flow has now steadied.

On Wednesday a few hundred Syrians, mainly women, children and the elderly, were making their way across the only border crossing still open to refugees in Yumurtalik in southern Turkey.

“We are not expecting anything more today. The rhythm has considerably dropped,” a Turkish official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

US-led air strikes against IS targets in Syria just over the border did not appear to have prompted a new wave of refugees, the source said.

“We are not anticipating any new wave of refugees for the moment,” said the official, adding: “We think that most of the Syrians who wanted to leave the country have already done so.”

Meanwhile, several dozen Kurds from the Ain al-Arab region who had taken refuge in Turkey were allowed by the authorities to return to Syria from the Mursitpinar border crossing.

“I had news from there, the future is ours and the jihadists are withdrawing and we will succeed in pushing them back,” said one of those going back, Orhan Ahmed.

Turkish security forces and Kurdish activists clashed at the weekend after authorities refused to let Kurds cross into Syria to join the fight against IS militants.

“We have been authorising Syrian Kurds to go back home since the start,” the Turkish official told AFP. “Only Turkish Kurds are banned from entering Syria.”

Turkey has denied that its airspace was used in the latest US-led air strikes against IS but has said it backs the campaign.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Turkish Land Forces Commander General Hulusi Akar carried out inspections on troops deployed on the Syrian border.

He was also briefed on the measures taken to increase border security, Turkish media said, without giving further details.

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