Kurds in Syria Advance Toward Islamic State Territory in North

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Offensive on city of Tal Abyad is step toward connecting up divided region.

Kurdish forces advanced on an Islamic State stronghold in northern Syria on Sunday in an escalating offensive that prompted thousands of residents to flee to the nearby Turkish border, carrying children in their arms and possessions on their backs.

On Saturday, black-clad and bearded Islamic State fighters with guns slung over their shoulders rounded up residents near the Akçakale border crossing and forced some back to their homes around the Syrian city of Tal Abyad. Some of them grinned as they mingled among the refugees within sight of Turkish soldiers on the frontier.

Turkish forces fired tear gas at the Syrian crowds on Sunday, and a local official said it was to prevent them from rushing the border. A day earlier, the Turkish troops sprayed them with water cannons. Images from the scene showed desperate refugees tearing a hole in the chain-link border fence topped with barbed wire and passing frightened women and children through it.

An official in the Turkish border town of Akçakale who oversaw refugee intake on Sunday said there were at least 20,000 Syrians from Tal Abyad and surrounding villages waiting at the crossing, many of them children.

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