Some 130,000 Syrians reach Turkey, fleeing IS

APTOPIX Turkey Syria Refugees

A Turkish soldier stands guard as several hundred Syrian refugees wait to cross the border in Suruc, Turkey, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. Turkey opened its border Saturday to allow in up to 60,000 people who massed on the Turkey-Syria border, fleeing the Islamic militants’ advance on Kobani. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

SURUC, Turkey (AP) — Some 130,000 Syrian refugees fleeing the advance of Islamic State militants have crossed the border into Turkey in the past four days, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said Monday, warning that the number could rise further as the militants continue their onslaught.

Numan Kurtulmus warned that the number could rise to “a refugee wave that can be expressed by hundreds of thousands.”

The refugees have been flooding into Turkey since Thursday, escaping an Islamic State offensive that has pushed the conflict nearly within sight of the Turkish border. The conflict in Syria had already pushed more than a million people over the border in the past 3½ years.

 “This is not a natural disaster… What we are faced with is a man-made disaster,” said Kurtulmus, adding that Turkey was taking measures to prepare.

“We don’t know how many more villages may be raided, how many more people may be forced to seek refuge. We don’t know,” he added. “An uncontrollable force at the other side of the border is attacking civilians. The extent of the disaster is worse than a natural disaster.”

The situation has raised tensions between Turkish authorities and Kurds who claim that the government is hampering their efforts to provide help to their brethren in Syria.

New clashes erupted along the border gate, near the town of Suruc, on Monday with police firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse Kurds protesting the government or demanding to reach Syria.

Suruc itself was flooded with refugees and armored military vehicles.

The al-Qaida breakaway group — which says it has established an Islamic state, or caliphate, ruled by a harsh version of Islamic law in territory it captured straddling the Syria-Iraq border — has in recent days advanced into Kurdish regions of Syria that border Turkey, where fleeing refugees on Sunday reported atrocities that included stonings, beheadings and the torching of homes.

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