Tens of thousands of Syrians, mostly Kurds, have crossed into Turkey in the past 24 hours, as ISIS militants have seized dozens of villages along the border in northern Syria, officials say.
Turkey opened its border on Friday to Syrians who were fleeing the Kurdish town of Kobane, with approximately 300 Kurdish fighters crossing into Syria from Turkey to help defend the strategic town. Kurdish sources say that ISIS fighters are about 10 miles from the town.
Refugees had been amassing along the border since Thursday but Ankara refused to allow them safe passage into the country, sparking protests. Saturday's decision to open the border suggests that Turkey anticipates a clash in the town of approximately 45,000 is imminent.
"As of today, the number of Syrian Kurds who entered Turkey has exceeded 60,000," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters in the southern Turkish province of Sanliurfa on Saturday.
The new flood of Syrians means that Turkey is rapidly approaching one million refugees who have entered the country since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began three years ago. The influx has creating economic and social stress on the country and, in some cases, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.