Several thousand Syrians, most of them Kurds, crossed into Turkey on Friday to find refuge from Islamic State (IS) militants who have barreled through dozens of Kurdish villages in northern Syria in the past 48 hours.
The extremists’ offensive on the Kobani area near the border with Turkey prompted the leader of Iraq’s Kurdish region to urge the international community to intervene to save Syria’s Kurds from the militant onslaught.
Together, the exodus to Turkey and appeal for help by an Iraqi leader show how the growing muscle of IS, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), has transcended borders to become a regional problem.
The US began conducting airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Iraq last month to protect US facilities and personnel, as well as minority groups that have come under threat from the militants.
US President Barack Obama is now trying to line up an international coalition to destroy the extremist group. The White House’s plan also includes training and support for mainstream rebels in Syria, as well as potential airstrikes against IS fighters in Syria.
In a statement posted on his Web site, Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani said the Islamic State group’s “barbaric and terrorist acts” on the Kobani area in northern Syria “threaten the whole entirety of the Kurdish nation and it has targeted the honor, dignity and existence of our people.”
“The ISIS terrorists perpetrate crimes and tragedies wherever they are, therefore they have to be hit and defeated wherever they are,” Barzani said.
By basing his appeal on humanitarian grounds, Barzani appeared to by trying to call for airstrikes similar to the ones the US military has conducted in Iraq against Islamic State fighters to help Kurdish security forces and protect religious minorities like the Yazidi community.
However, unlike their Iraqi brethren, Syria’s Kurds have been left on their own in the fight against the group, and it is unclear whether the US would be willing to meet Barzani’s request for airstrikes.
The main Kurdish force in Syria, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPK), has been battling the Islamic State group for more than a year. However, the YPK is still viewed with suspicion by mainstream Syrian rebels and their Western supporters because of perceived links to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
NATO member Turkey is also wary of the group, which it believes is affiliated with the Kurdish Workers’ Party movement that waged a long and bloody insurgency in southeast Turkey.
The Syrian Kurds who are now fleeing to Turkey are escaping an Islamic State onslaught that has captured more than 20 villages in the Kobani area since Wednesday, sending civilians streaming toward the frontier.
“Our house was destroyed. We have no family no property left. We have nothing now. Everything is gone,” said Ibrahim Halil, a Syrian Kurd who had just arrived in the Turkish village of Dikmetas in Sanliurfa Province.
Halil was among about 3,000 people who entered Turkey on Friday.
Many of those who crossed the border had been waiting at the frontier for 24 hours after Turkey, which is already home to nearly 850,000 registered Syrian refugees, refused to let them in on Thursday.
However, on Friday, Turkey changed tack and decided to let them enter the country after reports emerged that militants were closing in on their communities, said Izzettin Kucuk, the governor of Turkey’s Sanliurfa Province.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Ankara’s priority is to help those in need on the Syrian side of the border, but “if that’s not possible then of course they will be given help” inside Turkey.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent