Fresh fighting in Syria forces thousands more into Turkey

Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian refugees wait behind the border fences to cross into Turkey on the Turkish-Syrian border, near the southeastern town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 5, 2015. (Reuters)

Some 4,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey this week, fleeing fresh clashes pitting Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, a Turkish official said Friday.

The refugees are from Raqqa province, an ISIS stronghold on Syria’s border with Turkey. They left their war-torn country via the Akcakle frontier crossing in the southwest.

“We have taken in nearly 4,000 people, including women and children, who fled fighting in their areas,” the official told AFP.

Kurdish forces launched an offensive last week against ISIS, and took over a dozen villages either side of Raqa.

They aim to wrest control of the key ISIS-held Tal Abyad border crossing in order to free up passage from Kobane, on the Turkish frontier, to Qamishli, near Iraq.

Some 15,000 people -- mostly Turkish-speaking members of the Turkmen community -- are expected to flee Raqqa province for Turkey, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

“Logistical preparations (were) underway for any eventuality,” an official from Turkey’s emergency management agency said.

Formerly an ally of Damascus, Ankara broke off its relationship with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad as a 2011 uprising escalated from peaceful demonstrations to a bloody civil war.

More than 1.8 million Syrians have fled their country for Turkey, making it the country that has taken in the highest number of refugees in the region.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46