A total of 20,997 Syrian refugees fleeing clashes in Syria's town of Tal Abyad have entered Turkey's Şanlıurfa province through the Akçakale border crossing, official sources said on Tuesday.
Fighting between Kurdish forces and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) around the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, which borders Turkey, has fueled a new wave of desperate civilians trying to escape. The 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." During the weekend, ISIS militants had prevented civilians from crossing into Turkey, forcibly ordering them to return to Tal Abyad.
Earlier, Turkish officials said that most refugees fleeing Tal Abyad were Syrian Arabs or Turkmens rather than Kurds, and claimed that the Democratic Union Party (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," Şanlıurfa's governor claimed on Turkish television on Saturday.