Syria refugees return following IS defeat
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.
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.