Tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees have fled to Syria-Turkey border region of Kobani to escape onslaught of Islamist militants
(SOURCE) Kurdish fighters from Turkey and Iraq are scrambling to help defend a vital Kurdish safe haven in northern Syria, where tens of thousands of Kurds have fled after an offensive by Islamic State (Isis) militants.
The border region of Kobani, home to half a million people, has held out for months against an onslaught by Islamists seeking to consolidate their hold over swaths of northern Syria. But in recent days, Isis extremists have seized a series of settlements close to the town of Kobani itself, sending as many as 100,000 mostly Kurdish refugees streaming across the border into Turkey.
“I don’t think in the last three and a half years we have seen 100,000 cross in two days,” the representative for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Turkey, Carol Batchelor, told Reuters. “So this is a bit of a measure of how this situation is unfolding, and the very deep fear people have about the circumstances inside Syria and, for that matter, Iraq.”
A Kurdish commander on the ground said Isis had advanced to within 9 miles (15km) of Kobani.
A Kurdish politician from Turkey who visited Kobani on Saturday said locals told him Isis fighters were beheading people as they went from village to village.
“Rather than a war this is a genocide operation … They are going into the villages and cutting the heads of one or two people and showing them to the villagers,” Ibrahim Binici, a deputy for Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic party (HDP), told Reuters.
“It is truly a shameful situation for humanity,” he said, calling for international intervention. Five of his fellow MPs planned a hunger strike outside UN offices in Geneva to press for action, he said.