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60,000 Syrian Kurds flee to Turkey within 24 hours amid ISIS advance

 
 
 
 
 
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Some 60,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed into Turkey in the past 24 hours, fleeing Islamic State (IS) militants who are advancing on dozens of villages close to the border.

Turkey opened a stretch of the border on Friday after Kurds fled their homes, fearing an attack on the border town of Ayn al-Arab, a Kurdish commander on the ground said.

Local Kurds also said they fear a massacre in Kobani, whose strategic location has been blocking the militants from gaining more power in northern Syria.

“Kobani is facing the fiercest and most barbaric attack in its history,” Mohammed Saleh Muslim, the head of Syria’s powerful Kurdish Democratic Union, told AP.

Lokman Isa, a 34-year-old farmer who escaped with his family, told Reuters: “They [Islamic State] have destroyed every place they have gone to. We saw what they did in Iraq in Sinjar and we fled in fear.” He added that Kurdish forces fighting against the radical group have only light weapons.

The Islamic State militants are known to be using rockets, artillery, tanks, and armored vehicles.

“I would have fought to my last drop of blood against Islamic State but I had to bring the women and children,” Mustafa Saleh, a 30 year-old water industry worker, said.

“The United States, Turkey, Russia, friendly countries must help us. They must bomb Islamic State. All they can do is cut off heads, they have nothing to do with Islam,” he added.

Meanwhile, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said that 60,000 people have crossed the 30-kilometer stretch of open border since Friday.

At least 100 villages have been evacuated since Tuesday, when the assault began. Since then, over 300 Kurdish fighters have come to Syria from Turkey to fight against the militants.

Eleven Kurdish civilians, including boys, were executed in the villages near Kobani, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“The Islamic State sees Kobani like a lump in the body, they think it is in their way,” said Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the organization.

Mustefa Ebdi, director of a local radio station called Arta FM, confirmed the killings of the civilians. Speaking from the northern outskirts of Kobani, he told Reuters that the “Islamic State is killing any civilian it finds in a village.”

On his Facebook page, Ebdi put the total number of dead at 34 civilians – including women, the elderly, children, and the disabled. He also stated that 200 villages have been evacuated.

The news comes on the backdrop of the US and dozens of other countries drafting a roadmap for military action against IS in Syria, after the group took control over vast territories in Iraq and Syria.

On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the US Central Command has a plan to take “targeted actions against ISIS safe havens in Syria,” including striking infrastructure. The US is also set to arm 5,000 opposition fighters.

Syrian President Bashar Assad responded one day later, saying the fight against terrorism must begin by placing more pressure on those countries which are supporting and financing insurgents in Syria and Iraq.

Almost a week ago, the House of Commons Library stated that UK airstrikes against Islamic State extremists in Syria could be illegal without the agreement of Assad’s government or a UN Security Council resolution.

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