Syria refugees re­turn fol­low­ing IS de­feat

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY DI­LAY GUN­DO­GAN AND MAYA GE­BEILY

Syr­ian refugees in Tur­key be­gan re­turn­ing to their homes in Tal Abyad on Wed­nes­day af­ter Kur­dish forces seized the bor­der town in a ma­jor blow to the Is­lamic State group.

Some 200 men, women and chil­dren car­ry­ing their mea­ger pos­ses­sions crossed back into Syria through the Turk­ish bor­der post of Ak­cakale, a day af­ter Kur­dish fight­ers backed by Syr­ian rebels took Tal Abyad.

The fight for the town prompted some 23,000 peo­ple to flee into Tur­key, but on Wed­nes­day the first re­turnees said they were ea­ger to get back home.

“I’m re­turn­ing, I left my hus­band there. But I’m still very afraid of the bombs, how would some­one not be afraid of bombs?” said Fahriye, a 40-year-old house­wife.

“I’m also afraid

of IS com­ing back,” she said.

“I’ll go and de­cide with my fam­ily whether we’ll stay or not.”

Mah­mud, a farmer, said he too was ea­ger to re­turn home ahead of the Mus­lim fast­ing month of Ramadan, which be­gins on Thurs­day in Syria.

Fight­ers from the Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) and Syr­ian rebel forces de­clared full con­trol over Tal Abyad on Tues­day, less than a week af­ter they be­gan an ad­vance on the ji­hadis­theld town.

An­a­lysts said their cap­ture of Tal Abyad, aided by U.S.-led airstrikes, was the most sig­nif­i­cant de­feat for IS in Syria so far.

The town was a key con­duit for for­eign fight­ers and sup­plies into IS-held ter­ri­tory in Syria and for ex­ports of black mar­ket oil from ji­hadist-held fields.

The loss cuts a key IS sup­ply line to the ji­hadists’ de facto Syr­ian cap­i­tal of Raqa.

In­side the town on Wed­nes­day, life was be­gin­ning to re­turn, said Sher­fan Dar­wish, a spokesman for the Burkan al-Fu­rat rebel group that fought along­side the YPG.

The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said YPG and rebel forces had asked res­i­dents of 10 vil­lages in the area to leave their homes while searches were car­ried out.

AP

Syr­i­ans walk to cross back to the bor­der town of Tal Abyad in Syria from Tur­key, at the bor­der cross­ing in Ak­cakale, south­east­ern Tur­key, Wed­nes­day, June 17.

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