Turkey Clamps Down On Syria Border

SYRIATurkey has begun to close some of its border crossings with Syria after about 130,000 Kurdish refugees entered the country over the past two days.

On Sunday, Turkish security forces clashed with Kurds protesting in solidarity with the refugees. Some protesters were reportedly trying to go to Syria to fight Islamic State (IS).

Most refugees are from Kobane, a town threatened by the advancing militants.

IS has taken over large swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months.

Before the latest influx, there were already more than one million Syrian refugees in Turkey. They have fled since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad three years ago.

Some of the new arrivals are being sheltered in overcrowded schools, as Turkey struggles to cope with the influx.

On Friday Turkey opened a 30km (19-mile) section of the border to Syrians fleeing the town of Kobane, also known as Ayn al-Arab.

But on Monday only two out of nine border posts in the area remained open, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.

Clashes broke out on Sunday after a demonstration by Kurds on the Turkish side of the border.

Some protesters threw stones at security forces, who responded with tear gas and water cannon. There were no reports of serious injuries.

Turkish security forces were trying to stop Kurdish fighters from entering Syria to take part in the defence of Kobane, said the BBC‘s Mark Lowen at the scene.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a banned militant group that fought a civil war for autonomy within Turkey for decades, has called on Kurds to join the fight against IS.

The correspondent said the Syrian conflict has reawakened old hostilities and shaken a fragile peace between Kurds and Turkish authorities.

PKK-affiliated forces have been battling IS in northern Iraq for months.

Attacking IS in Syria is considered more complicated, partly because of the strength of the country’s air defence system and because foreign strikes do not have the approval of President Assad.

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told the BBC on Sunday that air strikes alone might not be enough to contain the group. — BBC


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