Refugees fleeing Syria's Tel Abyad begin entering Turkey

Refugees fleeing Syria's Tel Abyad begin entering Turkey

Syrian refugees fleeing clashes in Syria's Tel Abyad town are now pouring into Turkey's Sanliurfa province in droves through the Akcakale crossing on the Syrian-Turkish border, official sources told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.

According to an official estimate, up to 3,000 fresh refugees are expected to land into Turkey in the latest surge.

Since the past two weeks, the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD)'s military wing known as the YPG has been carrying out operations with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in the northeast Syrian cities of Tel Abyad and al-Hasakah to push back Daesh.

Since the operations began almost 15,000 civilians from adjacent villages and towns have crossed the border into Turkey's southeastern Sanliurfa province, official sources told Anadolu Agency on Friday.

Later, Daesh militants began preventing the civilians from crossing into Turkey and ordered them to move back to Tel Abyad town by force Saturday.

According to a statement released by the Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) Sunday, Turkish custom gate officials again started to allow Syrian refugees into Turkey despite Daesh efforts to stop them.

In another statement, Turkey's Prime Ministry Office of Public Diplomacy explained why Syrian refugees had to wait on the Syrian side before the process began again Sunday.

"Daesh militants used force and closed the customs [gate on the Syrian side, ordering] fleeing Syrians to return to the town of Tel Abyad," it said.

Turkey shares an estimated 900 kilometers long border with Syria, which has a total of around 13 border crossings. Some crossings are now under Daesh terrorists' control on the Syrian side, including northern Syrian town of the Tel Abyad in Raqqa province, the statement added.

Earlier, Turkish officials said that most refugees fleeing Tel Abyad were Syrian Arabs or Turkmens rather than Kurds, and said that YPG was trying to change the demographics in the region.

"Ninety-eight percent of the region is made up of Arabs and Turkmens, but the PYD is changing the demographics of that region with aims to establish a Kurdish state by forcing Arab Syrians to migrate to Turkey," Sanliurfa governor told a Turkish TV Saturday.

Addressing the issue, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had blamed the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes of contributing to the Kurdish group's capture of Arab and Turkmen lands.

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