09/22/2014, 00.00
TURKEY - SYRIA
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Turkey closes its border with Syria. Thousands of Kurdish refugees wait behind barbed wire

The crisis sparked by Islamic State conquest of 60 villages and its having laid siege to the city of Kobané. UN warns of humanitarian emergency with hundreds of thousands of refugees. The shut down also blocks the flow of Turkish Kurd fighters against the jihadists. Launch of US air raids in Syria increasingly likely.

Ankara (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Turkish government has closed its border crossings with Syria after at least 70 thousand Kurdish refugees poured across the frontier in recent days. Officially, the shutdown is in response to the protests by refugees and the Kurdish population in Turkey, who threw stones at the security forces (see photo). However, Ankara has also stopped the flow of Turkish Kurds across into Syria to fight beside their ethnic group which is increasingly targeted by the army of Islam.

In the past few days the Islamic State (IS) has conquered at least 60 Kurdish villages and laid siege to the city of Ain​​-el-Arab (Kobané in Kurdish). The area, which is in the north of Syria, allows the IS to control a long stretch of the border with Turkey, vital for the unhindered flow of weapons and men. The IS militiamen have heavy weapons and tanks. The local Kurdish fighters and those from Turkey are less equipped.

The risk of a humanitarian emergency is real. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that the Kurdish civilians seeking refuge in Turkey could reach "hundreds of thousands".

The other emergency that lies ahead is the likely start of US aerial bombing in Syria.

The United States, at the head of an anti-IS coalition, have repeatedly stated that they would carry out raids in Syria. But there are difficulties: the IS in Syria has powerful anti-aircraft missiles; Moreover, the approval of the Damascus government is needed to legitimize the air raids, but Assad has been kept out of the coalition. Indeed, part of the plan to combat IS includes strengthening the opposition to Damascus - the so-called "moderate" rebels - which includes Islamist groups - such as al-Nusra, linked to Al Qaeda - which in the past were attacked by IS.

 

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