Turkish police and troops fired tear gas and water cannon on Friday at scores of people staging a protest near the Syrian border at Ankara’s refusal to take in Kurds fleeing clashes with Islamic State (IS) jihadists, local media reported.
Security forces moved to disperse some 100 Turkish Kurds in the village of Dikmetas as they attempted to walk to the Syrian border in protest, CNN-Turk television reported.
Hundreds of Syrian Kurds have massed on the other side of the border amid escalating clashes between the Islamic State group and Kurdish fighters.
Ankara, a vocal critic of President Bashar Assad’s regime, has maintained an open-door policy to Syrian refugees, taking in 1.5 million people. But there are mounting concerns in Turkey that it would not be able to cope with another major influx.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said late Thursday Turkey had ordered its border provinces to extend aid to the Kurdish refugees — but on Syrian territory.
“We are ready to help our brothers gathered along the border but our priority is to deliver aid within Syrian borders,” Davutoglu told reporters.
IS jihadists have been closing in on a strategic Syrian town near the border, expelling Kurdish fighters from surrounding villages.
The capture of Ain Al-Arab — Syria’s third largest Kurdish town, known to the Kurds as Kobane — would give IS control of a large strip of Syria’s northern border with Turkey.
Western capitals have upped the pressure on Ankara in recent months to protect its porous border and stop the transit of foreign fighters swelling the ranks of IS jihadists in Iraq and Syria.