Kurds from Syria have been fleeing into Turkey more than ever, to escape from attacks by the extremist militants calling themselves Islamic State. In the space of 24 hours, starting on Friday, 50,000 had crossed over. This triggered what the United Nations says is the biggest humanitarian alarm since war broke out in Syria three years ago.
UNHCR refugee agency representative in Turkey Carol Batchelor said: “I don’t think in the last three and a half years we have seen 100 thousand people crossing in two days.We are approaching in Turkey 1.6 million refugees and now over a hundred thousand influx and quite frankly we don’t know when those numbers will end. We don’t know what the future holds.”
Kurds from the city of Kobani (called Ayn al-Arab in Arabic) say they left in terror as Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, captured dozens of Kurdish villages in northern Syria.
News agency AFP quoted one refugee: “They said in the mosques that they could kill all Kurds between seven and 77 years old.”
Crying, Syrian Kurd refugee Ismail Ahmad said: “They came into our houses and dragged our daughters away. What kind of Muslims are they? What kind of Islam is that? They are beheading people. We came here to seek shelter.”
Islamic State considers the Kurds to have renounced their mostly Sunni faith and become secular. (Video taken at the Turkish-Syrian border shows that most of the women’s faces are not covered by veils, for instance.)
The group has also attacked non-Sunni Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Alawites and Shiites in Iraq and Syria. Some of the sounds of fighting in Syria are clearly audible from the Turkish side of the border.
Islamic State imposes a radical interpretation of Islam.
Syrian Kurd refugee Haci Hasan Bektas said: “ISIL came and tyrannised us. We left our homes and property behind, we left everything we had because of ISIL’s cruelty.”
The UN refugee agency has received less from donor countries than one quarter of the 385 million euros it says it needs to pay for the care of those arriving in turkey.