More than 200 Syrian Turkmens fleeing PYD take refuge in Turkey

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 24.06.2015 19:47

Around 200 more Syrian Turkmens fled the Syrian border city of Tal Abyad and have taken refuge in southern Turkey due to alleged threats from the PKK-linked Kurdish Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed People's Protection Units (YPG), which have been accused of displacing Turkmens for demographic adjustments.

The 200 Turkmens, which included women and children, came from Hamam village in Tal Abyad. Speaking to the press, they claimed they had to evacuate their village after threats were given to them by the PYD controlling the area, adding that about 700 other Turkmens moved to the east of Tal Abyad while 200 came to Turkey's İsmail Direk border post in the Akçakale district of the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa.

After making asylum requests with Turkish authorities, the Syrian Turkmens were taken to the refugee registration office in the district in army vehicles.

Speaking on behalf of the Turkmen group, Ömer Dede told Anadolu Agency that YPG fighters came to their village recently and threatened to strike their village unless they left. Dede claimed the fighters had blamed the Turkmens for supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). "All Turkmens left the city because of fear. We had no country to turn to except to take refuge in Turkey. All we want is to return to our homes in Syria, which we hopefully can with the help of Turkey," he said.

Dede also spoke about the plight of around 10,000 Turkmens who, according to him, were now living under trees in an area near Raqqa. "They are stuck between ISIS and the YPG we must save them, otherwise they will die," he added.

In the past few weeks, Turkey has been witnessing another massive inflow of Syrian refugees from Tal Abyad and nearby areas as they flee clashes between ISIS and the YPG. The Syrian border city was captured from ISIS on June 15 by the YPG and Syrian opposition groups with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in northeastern Syria to push ISIS forces back.

Turkey, which shares a 900-kilometer border with Syria, has given refuge to more than 1.7 million Syrians, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, with more coming because of the ongoing bloodshed in the war-torn country.

A total of 23,349 refugees, mainly Arabs and Turkmens, fleeing clashes in Tal Abyad have entered Şanlıurfa province through the Akçakale border crossing since June 3, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgiç said at a weekly press briefing last Thursday.

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