Thousands of Syrians have flowed across the border into Iraq’s Kurdish region to escape battles in their homeland, the UN refugee agency has said.

More than 15,000 refugees have crossed into Iraq in the latest influx since Thursday, with more expected to follow, UNHCR said.

The agency is witnessing a major exodus from Syria over the past few days unlike anything we have witnessed entering Iraq previously, Claire Bourgeois, the agency's Iraq representative, said.

Kurdish region had allocated an additional $20 million to its budget for Syrian Kurdish refugees, but would require further help from the UN and Iraq's federal government, Dindar Zebari, the deputy chief of the Iraqi Kurdish foreign affairs department, said. 

Syrian government forces pulled out of the Kurdish-majority areas of northern and north-eastern Syria last year, leaving Kurdish groups to run their own affairs.

But al-Qaeda loyalists have been locked in deadly fighting with Kurdish armed groups in recent months.

More than 1.9 million Syrians have fled their homeland, with most seeking a haven in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Iraq hosted nearly 155,000 registered Syrian refugees, most of them Kurds, according to the UN, before the latest influx.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies