A total of 20,997 Syrian refugees fleeing clashes in Syria’s town of Tal Abyad have entered Turkey’s Sanliurfa province through the Akcakale border crossing, official sources said on Tuesday.
Fighting between Kurdish forces and Daesh rebels around the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, which borders Turkey, has fueled a new wave of desperate civilians trying to escape.
The Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said in a written statement on Tuesday: "In the last two weeks, a total of 20,997 people, who entered Turkey, were registered. 6,095 of the refugees are women and 10,286 are children," said the statement.
Over the past two weeks, the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD)’s military wing known as the People's Protection Units or YPG, has been carrying out operations with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in the northeast Syrian districts of Tal Abyad and al-Hasakah to push back Daesh forces.
During the weekend, Daesh militants had prevented civilians from crossing into Turkey, forcibly ordering them to head back to Tal Abyad.
The Free Syrian Army and the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units took control of Tal Abyad on Monday.
Turkey shares an estimated 900-kilometer border with Syria, with about 13 border crossings. Some on the Syrian side are now under Daesh’s control, including Tal Abyad in Raqqa province, according to a previous AFAD statement.
Earlier, Turkish officials said that most refugees fleeing Tal Abyad were Syrian Arabs or Turkmens rather than Kurds, and claimed that the PYD was trying to influence 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’s governor told Turkish television Saturday.
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