Among the top accusations against Turkey during Syria’s ongoing civil war has been that its government has not done enough to stem the flow of foreigners who slip over its border and into the ruthless jihadi groups operating between Syria and Iraq. But just as those thousands have crossed the boundary into Syria and Iraq to take up arms &mdash some are thought to have joined extremist factions like the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) &mdash Turkey’s 560-mile-long border has also proven a valuable exit for more than 1 million Syrian refugees.
Officials estimate more than 180,000 Syrian Kurds joined them in september 2014, putting that exodus among the largest population shifts of the conflict since it began more than three years ago. The influx resulted from fierce battles between ISIS and Kurdish forces near the city of Ayn al-Arab, known to the Kurds as Kobani, following the militants’ seizure of Kurdish villages near the border during a recent advance.
Kobani is a short leap from the Turkish town of Suruc and had previously been mostly spared from the fighting that has devastated other parts of Syria. F eming added that the agency is now preparing for a worst-case scenario in which all 400,000 residents of Kobani flee to Turkey to escape the threat.