As More Syrians Flee To Turkey, Turkish Kurds Head For Syria

As more than 130,000 Syrian refugees flood into Turkey to escape ISIS, Turkish Kurds are trying to get into the country to fight the group.
Posted at 11:18 PM, Sep 22, 2014

More than 130,000 Syrian refugees flooded into Turkey over the weekend as ISIS pushed farther north into Kurdish-controlled areas. But another group is trying to cross the border in the opposite direction: Turkish Kurds.

Kurds, part of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, determined to defend their Syrian kin are trying to head south into Syria.

But Turkey’s long and strained relationship with the PKK, which has seen decades of violence in the name of an independent Kurdish region, has become apparent as police blocked those fighters from entering Syria. Both Turkey and the U.S. consider the PKK a terrorist group.

STEFANIE DEKKER VIA AL JAZEERA: "What did happen when we arrived here was a standoff with a couple of tens of protesters with Turkish police that had a strong presence here, they used tear gas, water cannons to disperse them they were throwing rocks."

According to The Washington Post, Turkey is actively preventing Kurdish fighters from entering Kobanê, the area now under threat by ISIS, saying it's illegal for those fighters to cross the border.

The Post quotes a spokesman for a Syrian Kurdish group as saying Turkey is blocking all Kurdish men at the border, although some are still crossing illegally.

A Kurdish activist tweeted this video, which allegedly shows Kurds jumping over the border gates.

Although the PKK and Turkey are observing a cease-fire, a Middle East Center Fellow told Voice of America tensions could boil over if Kobanê falls to ISIS.

"Right now, Turkey and PKK are talking, are negotiating. And that has decreased the resentment towards Turkey in the last couple of years. But now, if Turkey indirectly leads to ISIS's violent actions, the Kurds will feel this resentment against Turkey in the long run."

The Guardian reports Syrian Kurds have so far been able to halt ISIS's advance near Kobanê, but clashes are still intense.

This video includes images from Getty Images and Nora Miralles / CC BY NC ND 2.0.