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Pics: Thousands of terrified Kurds flee to Turkey to escape Islamic State

Hundreds of Kurds abandoned their homes after warnings from Islamic State.

Source: Reuters/YouTube

TENS OF THOUSANDS of civilians in northern Syria, many of them Kurds, have fled from their homes and into Turkey in fear of Islamic State.

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded an immediate end to the violence, saying:

The Secretary-General is closely following the continuing offensive by the terrorist group ISIL in the town of Ayn al-Arab in northern Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 600 Kurds from the villages of Tal Akhdar, Tal Fandar and the town of Tal Abyad had abandoned their homes after warnings from Islamic State.

Turkey Syria Refugees Syrian refugees carry their belongings at the border in Suruc Source: AP/Press Association Images

The UN said that it is alarmed by the reports of thousands of civilians on the run in fear of Islamic State militants.

Ban Ki-moon welcomed the fact that the Turkish government allowed some to cross the border into their country for safety.

Islamic State militants are reported to have travelled through dozens of Kurdish villages in northern Syria over the past few days, forcing people to flee.

Turkey Syria Refugees Syrian refugees carry a sick person at the border in Suruc, Turkey, yesterday Source: AP/Press Association Images

AFP reports that Islamic State militants closed in on Syria’s third-largest Kurdish town today.

The UN refugee agency said as many as 70,000 Syrian Kurds had poured into Turkey since Friday.

There have also been solidarity protests by Turkish Kurds on the border, which led to clashes with security forces.

Turkey Syria Refugees Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian refugees gather at the border in Suruc Source: AP/Press Association Images

Syrian Kurdish fighters backed by reinforcements from Turkey are battling to hold off a jihadist advance on the strategic border town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds.

The IS group has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria, declaring a “caliphate”, imposing its harsh interpretation of Islamic law and committing widespread atrocities including beheadings and crucifixions.

Turkey Syria Refugees A Syrian Kurdish refugee woman at the border in Suruc Source: AP/Press Association Images

Local officials have warned of potential massacres should IS extremists advance on Ain al-Arab, and pleaded for an international intervention.

There have been no signs yet of US strikes in Syria – American forces have carried out at least 183 strikes against IS in Iraq.

Turkey Syria Refugees Source: AP/Press Association Images

UNHCR said it feared the massive influx of refugees would only grow, and said authorities were preparing for the possibility of hundreds of thousands of additional arrivals.

IS fighters have been advancing on Ain al-Arab since late Tuesday, hoping to cement their control over a large part of Syria’s border with Turkey.

Turkey Syria Refugees Source: AP/Press Association Images

Today, they were within some 10km of the town, after capturing more than 60 villages in the area, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

The NGO said ISIL had also detained dozens of Kurds in the area, releasing them with a warning to leave their village in the northern province, where the jihadist group has a strong

Turkey Syria Refugees A Turkish soldier helps a Syrian refugee to carry her belongings at the border in Suruc Source: AP/Press Association Images

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Islamic State “has fought bloody battles against Syria’s Kurds, who have otherwise largely stayed out of the Syrian conflict, focusing on building autonomy in majority Kurdish areas.

It considers them infidels and has also sought to take control of oil resources in Kurdish areas.

- Additional reporting  © AFP, 2014

Read: Wife of British taxi driver captured by Islamic State pleads with captors to release him>

Read: Kurdish troops take towns from Islamic State, advance on key dam>

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