300 Kurds cross from Turkey to Syria to fight jihadists

300 Kurds cross from Turkey to Syria to fight jihadists

BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
300 Kurds cross from Turkey to Syria to fight jihadists

Syrian Kurds gather after crossing the border between Syria and Turkey near the southeastern town of Suruç in Şanlıurfa province, on September 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ILYAS AKENGIN

At least 300 Kurdish fighters crossed from Turkey into Syria overnight to battle jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) trying to seize a strategic border town, a monitor said Sept 20.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Kurds had joined the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in their fight against the ISIL as it seeks to capture the town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane to the Kurds.

The fighting around the strategic town has prompted a mass exodus into Turkey, which opened its border on Friday to fleeing Kurds and has since received 45,000 people, according to officials.

The clashes broke out on Tuesday evening, and the ISIL jihadists have since seized 60 Kurdish villages in a lightening campaign.

Ain al-Arab is Syria’s third largest Kurdish town and capturing it would give ISIL control of a long stretch of the country’s northern border with Turkey.

The Observatory said fighting was continuing on Sept. 20, with heavy clashes in the vicinity of the town.

The co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, had called on "all young people" to fight against the ISIL. “I’m making a call for defense on the battlefront to all young people. Today, human dignity is being defended. The youth, including Turks, Kurds, Alevis and Sunnis, should resist the barbaric actions of ISIL,” Demirtaş said Sept. 19.