Syrians flee battle for Tal Abyad - Al Jazeera English

Syrians flee battle for Tal Abyad

Thousands of Syrians pour into Turkey as coalition jets and Kurdish units drive out ISIL fighters from strategic town.

Ahmed Deeb , Marie Phiquepal | | War & Conflict, Middle East, Refugees, Syria, Syrian crisis

Thousands of Syrians have been fleeing the city of Tal Abyad on the Turkish-Syrian border since it began to be targeted by US-led coalition jets amid ground clashes between fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and Syrian Kurdish units of the YPG backed by their allies.

Tal Abyad has been controlled by ISIL since last August.

'YPG and Free Syrian Army are coming from the east of Tal Abyad," a young Syrian man who fled the town and arrived in Turkey last week told Al Jazeera.

"YPG and Brigades of Raqqa rebels also came from Kobane from the west of Tal Abyad to surround Tal Abyad to take ISIL positions."

Turkish military vehicles lined up along the border and Turkish police bulldozers arrived at the border's gates before the first families arrived one by one, and people then began to flood in.

The Turkish Agency for Relief and Emergency (AFAD) and Turkish immigration administration teams began to register the people.

Many of the Syrians are sleeping outdoors for now.

"We are staying in the streets here. For the moment, the families are not sent to the camps," Fatmah al-Khalaf, 40, from Tal Abyad, told Al Jazeera. 

After visiting the Akcakale border crossing in southern Turkey, where the main influx has been concentrated, Numan Kurtulmus, Turkish deputy prime minister, said on Wednesday that access would be limited to humanitarian cases only.

"Turkey will not accept entries onto its territory from Syria except in case of a humanitarian tragedy," he was quoted by local media as saying.

However, a Turkish official told AFP news agency that these measures did not put in question Turkey's open door-policy towards Syrian refugees.

"The restrictions formulated by the local authorities are temporary and local," the official said.

More than 1.7 million Syrian refugees have officially registered in Turkey, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

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