Turkey reopens bor­der to Syr­ian refugees flee­ing from Tal Abyad

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Dozens of Syr­ian refugees poured into Turkey on Mon­day af­ter Ankara re­opened the bor­der, flee­ing in­tense fight­ing be­tween Kur­dish fighters and ji­hadists in north­ern Syria.

The new flow of refugees came as Kur­dish forces ad­vance on the Syr­ian town of Tal Abyad, which is held by Is­lamic State (IS) ji­hadists and lies just across the Turk­ish bor­der.

Some 400 Syr­i­ans have been ini­tially given per­mis­sion to en­ter Turkey on Mon­day via the Ak­cakale bor­der cross­ing, where at least 1,000 had been clus­tered be­hind barbed wire, an AFP pho­tog­ra­pher said.

In the last week ap­prox­i­mately 16,000 peo­ple have fled into Turkey to es­cape the fight­ing, but the bor­der has been closed spo­rad­i­cally, with Ankara say­ing it would only al­low refugees into the coun­try in the event of a hu­man­i­tar­ian tragedy.

Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties closed the bor­der on Sun­day af­ter al­low­ing in at least 3,000 peo­ple, leav­ing thou­sands of peo­ple stranded, with many spend­ing the night out­side the fence in the open.

“If Turkey ac­cepts a new wave of refugees from Tal Abyad, it means that Turkey should be pre­pared for an in­flux of at least 100,000 refugees,” Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Nu­man Kur­tul­mus said on Mon­day.

“We are of the opin­ion that there isn’t a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Tal Abyad, sim­i­lar to Kobane or other re­gions in Syria,” he told pri­vate CNN-Turk tele­vi­sion.

The Kur­dish forces aim to wrest con­trol of Tel Abyad — op­po­site Ak­cakale — in or­der to free up pas­sage from Kobane, on the Turk­ish fron­tier, to Qamishli which is close to the Iraqi bor­der.

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

The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment said in April it has spent al­most US$5.5 bil­lion (4.8 bil­lion eu­ros) to pro­vide for Syr­ian refugees.

Un­der an “open-door” pol­icy cham­pi­oned by Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, Turkey has taken in 1.8 mil­lion Syr­ian refugees since the con­flict in Syria erupted in 2011.

AP

A Syr­ian refugee car­ry­ing chil­dren walks in Ak­cakale, south­east­ern Turkey, as he and oth­ers flee in­tense fight­ing in north­ern Syria be­tween Kur­dish fighters and Is­lamic State mil­i­tants, Mon­day, June 15.

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