A member of an Islamist Syrian opposition group fires against the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People militia in the countryside of Raqqa province on August 25, 2013
A member of an Islamist Syrian opposition group fires against the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People militia in the countryside of Raqqa province on August 25, 2013 © Alice Martins - AFP/File
A member of an Islamist Syrian opposition group fires against the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People militia in the countryside of Raqqa province on August 25, 2013
AFP
Last updated: March 20, 2014

Hundreds of Kurds in Syria flee after jihadist threat

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Some 600 Kurdish residents of villages in Syria's Raqa province have fled after an ultimatum from the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an NGO said Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 600 Kurds from the villages of Tal Akhdar, Tal Fandar and the town of Tal Abyad had abandoned their homes after warnings from ISIL.

The NGO said ISIL had also detained dozens of Kurds in the area, releasing them with a warning to leave their village in the northern province, where the jihadist group has a strong presence.

It said more than 500 had entered Turkey, with others fleeing to the nearby town of Ain al-Arab.

ISIL has fought bloody battles against Syria's Kurds, who have otherwise largely stayed out of the Syrian conflict, focusing on building autonomy in majority Kurdish areas.

It considers them infidels and has also sought to take control of oil resources in Kurdish areas.

The jihadists' stronghold is in Raqa's provincial capital of the same name, the only capital to fall from regime hands.

ISIL has been consolidating its hold in the province and its capital since earlier this year when it was forced to withdraw from other parts of rebel-held territory when moderate and Islamist opposition groups turned against it.

The group, which began in neighbouring Iraq, is accused by the opposition of carrying out abuses against civilians and rival rebels and imposing its harsh interpretation of Islam by force.

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