Kurds flee Syria's Kobani town to seek refuge in Turkey

22 September 2014

A Kurds-dominated town that had provided a safe haven of sorts in war-ravaged Syria has become the latest target of Islamic State gunmen as the group expands territory under its control along the Turkish border, Bloomberg reported.

Kobani, which escaped the worst in the Syrian civil war, is under siege by the militant group, with tanks and artillery, raining shells on beleaguered town, according to UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The fighting had forced 130,000 people to cross the border into Turkey, deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus said today in Ankara.

The al-Qaeda breakaway group has turned on Kurds in Syria, as it rampages through the country and neighbouring Iraq, redrawing borders colonial powers imposed after World War I.

The battle lines are drawn between the Islamic State and the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, PYD. According to political analysts, efforts to intervene against Islamic militants might get complicated as the group has links with a Turkish-Kurd party classified as a terrorist movement by Turkey, the US and the EU.

According to James Fallon, senior Middle East analyst at `Control risks in Dubai', the question for US policy was if both groups that were fighting might be listed as terrorist groups, how does one deal with that? Turkey, he added, was also an ally that the US wanted to have on side before having the PYD on side.

Meanwhile, Turkey is faced with one of the biggest influxes of refugees from neighbouring Syria since the war started three over years ago, the United Nations' refugee agency said on yesterday, as civilians continued to flee clashes between Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants and Kurdish forces.

Dozens of villages fell to ISIS fighters close to the border with Turkey and advanced on the frontier town of Kobani as Kurdish commanders issued a rallying cry to Turkish Kurds to join the fight. According to reports, at least 70,000 people were confirmed to have crossed into Turkey in less than two days, but the real figure might be over 100,000, according to Carol Batchelor, UNHCR's representative in Turkey who spoke to Reuters yesterday.

"I don't think in the last three and a half years we have seen 100,000 cross in two days. So this is a bit of a measure of how this situation is unfolding, and the very deep fear people have about the circumstances inside Syria and for that matter, Iraq," Batchelor said in an interview from the Turkish capital, Ankara.

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