Turkey Closes Border As Thousands Of Syrians Flee ISIL Attacks
Turkey closed down its border with Syria as more than 130,000 refugees rushed to escape the attacks of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in their country.
The lockdown on Monday shows that the ISIL threat has pushed both Turkey and Syria to desperation. Over 1.5 million Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey in search of refuge from the local civil war, causing Turkish officials to fear that the situation would lead to a humanitarian crisis, The News relayed.
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In the last three days, another 130,000 refugees flooded across the Syrian border, Turkish deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus said.
Because ISIL was able to strike Kurdish forces at their weak points, the terror group's next attacks could leave civilians homeless should the border lockdown continue. Some of the refugees tried crossing the border through wire fences, Redur Xelil, a Kurdish spokesman, said.
The U.S.-led coalition has launched more air strikes targeting ISIL forces in Iraq, but they are still undecided if they should expand the attacks to Syria.
Since the ISIL militants started attacking Kurdish regions on September 16, Turkey has been periodically locking down its official borders. The Islamist group is now getting closer to Kobane, a Syrian village that could give them control to a large area in the Syrian-Turkish border.
Within the last week, the militants were able to capture 60 Kurdish villages in Syria. Kurdish fighters said they have temporarily slowed down ISIL's advances, but they are still worried that their on-hand weapons are not enough to defeat the militants, who have gotten hold of U.S.-made arsenal from fleeing Iraqi soldiers in June.
Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish forces have asked the international community for help in defending their borders. Kurtmulus said an "uncontrollable force" is inflicting harm on civilians beyond their borders.
On Sunday, the United Nations (UN) refugee agency announced Turkey's preparation for the influx of possibly hundreds of thousands of additional Syrian refugees. Being short on budget, the agency appealed for financial assistance from international donors.
Turkey has already welcomed over 1.5 million refugees from Syria, but it is still struggling to deal with the volume of people trying to escape the Syrian civil war and the ISIL attacks.