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Syria Refugees in Turkey Hit 130,000   09/22 06:42

   ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- The number of Syrian refugees who have reached Turkey 
in the past four days after fleeing the advance of Islamic State militants now 
totals 130,000, Turkey's deputy prime minister said Monday.

   Numan Kurtulmus warned that the number could rise further but insisted that 
Turkey was ready to react to "the worst case scenario."

   "I hope that we are not faced with a more populous refugee wave, but if we 
are, we have taken our precautions," Kurtulmus said. "A refugee wave that can 
be expressed by hundreds of thousands is a possibility."

   The refugees have been flooding into Turkey since Thursday, escaping an 
Islamic State offensive that has pushed the conflict nearly within eyeshot of 
the Turkish border. The conflict in Syria has pushed more than a million people 
over the border in the past 3 years.

   The al-Qaida breakaway group, which has established an Islamic state, or 
caliphate, ruled by its harsh version of Islamic law in territory it captured 
straddling the Syria-Iraq border, has in recent days advanced into Kurdish 
regions of Syria that border Turkey, where fleeing refugees on Sunday reported 
atrocities that included stonings, beheadings and the torching of homes.

   "This is not a natural disaster... What we are faced with is a man-made 
disaster," Kurtulmus said. We don't know how many more villages may be raided, 
how many more people may be forced to seek refuge. We don't know.

   "An uncontrollable force at the other side of the border is attacking 
civilians. The extent of the disaster is worse than a natural disaster," he 

   As refugees flooded in, Turkey on Sunday closed the border crossing at Kucuk 
Kendirciler to Turkish Kurds in a move aimed at preventing them from joining 
the fight in Syria. A day earlier, hundreds of Kurdish fighters had poured into 
Syria through the small Turkish village, according to the Britain-based Syrian 
Observatory for Human Rights.


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