Skip to main content

How will Turkey react to stream of Kurdish refugees?

Turkey has reportedly received over 130,000 refugees since the Islamic State attacked the northern Syrian town of Kobani.
Turkish soldiers stand guard as Syrian Kurds wait behind the border fence near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province September 22, 2014. More than 130,000 Syrian Kurds fleeing an advance by Islamic State militants have crossed into Turkey in the past three days and the authorities are preparing for more, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday.  REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR476TU

On Sept.19, Islamic State (IS) militants started to attack dozens of Kurdish villages in northern Syria across the Turkish border, triggering a new wave of refugees. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Sept. 22 that more than 130,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed the border into Turkey since IS laid siege to the border town of Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. “We are prepared for the worst-case scenario, which is an influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees,” Kurtulmus said.

Turkish news channels have been showing live feeds of the refugees, including many women and children, coming to the border fence with just the clothes on their backs. The crossings are occurring not at official border gates but in areas somewhat removed from where clashes have been taking place. And in fact, the Syrian regime controls only two official border gates, while the rest are in the hands of either the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) or the extremist forces.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.