YPG prevents Syrian refugees return to Tel Abyad

People’s Protection Units, militant wing of outlawed PKK’s Syrian branch Democratic Union Party, prevents refugees from returning to Tal Abyad citing ISIS attacks over northern Syrian town of Kobane

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

People’s Protection Units (YPG) have prevented refugees from returning to Tal Abyad because of recent car bombs attacks by ISIS on northern Syrian town of Kobane near the Turkish border.

YPG is the militant wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is considered by Turkey as the Syrian affiliate of the outlawed PKK.

Tal Abyad came under the domination of ISIS in June 2014 and was captured by the YPG and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces on June 15, 2015.

Tal Abyad lies within the Raqqa province of Syria across the Turkish border district Akcakale, Sanliurfa.

More than 23,000 civilians from Syrian villages and towns have crossed the Turkish border into the southeast province of Sanliurfa over the past two weeks, as the YPG along with the FSA forces carried out  operations with the help of US-led coalition air strikes in the northeastern regions of Tal Abyad and Al Hasakah to push back the ISIS militants.

Tal Abyad is located between Kobane and Jazira “cantons” and has a strategic importance because it commands the major trade and smuggling routes to Raqqa, the first major city conquered by ISIS.

Now, by taking control of Tal Abyad, the PYD is able to join both “cantons.”

Turkey recently raised concerns over the border security and displacement of Turkmen and Arabs from Tal Abyad. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced on Monday that a National Security Council meeting will discuss whether the Armed Forces should carry out cross-border operation into northern Syria, following the recent clashes of the YPG and ISIS.

Over  1,700 refugees have returned to Syria following the PYD and FSA calls “to return” to Tal Abyad after the groups opened the border crossing, but later the allied militant forces closed the crossing on the grounds that the district had been booby-trapped by the ISIS militants.

They reopened the crossing on June 22 after cleaning the district, then about 2,100 refugees have returned to Syria.

However, the YPG has not allowed refugees to return to Tal Abyad from Akcakale since June 25 when ISIS attacked Kobane once again, Turkish official Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.

Turkey has previously set up an accommodation center in the Turkish southeastern district of Suruc in the Sanliurfa province which is located across Kobane.

Some of the refugees from Kobane have been living in the camp for more than 6 months since moving into Turkey after ISIS and the YPG clashes around the town for four months between September and December 2014.

The center is the biggest refugee camp in the country and has a capacity for 35,000 people.

Necmettin Ahmet, one of the refugees living in the camp, spoke in an interview with the AA expressing his gratitude towards Turkey saying,“Turkey always supported us and maintained its assistances before and after the war.”

Another refugee from Kobane Nevide Muslim stated, “Our patients receive treatment easily in Turkey's healthcare organizations. I don't know how to thank Turkey enough.”

Yet another refugee, Aziz Berkel, said, “Turkey protected us at these difficult times. If Turkey did not help us, we would be wretched with our children.”

He also mentioned the latest ISIS attack on Kobane during a pre-dawn Ramadan meal, [sahur time] brutally killing many civilians.

Ahmet emphasised the issue saying, “What Daesh [ISIS] do doesn't comply with Islam. A Muslim does not do this to another Muslim.”

More than 230 civilians were reportedly killed during the latest clashes in Kobane.

Berkel said, “All of the people who were injured in last week's clashes are treated in hospitals in Sanliurfa. We will never forget Turkey's assistances.”    

According to the UNHCR, Turkey already hosts over  1.7 million Syrian refugees who escaped the violence in their country after the escalation of the Syrian Civil War in 2012.

TRTWorld and agencies