Thousands of Syrians cut through a border fence and crossed over into Turkey on Sunday, fleeing intense fighting in northern Syria between Kurdish fighters and ISIS militants around the town of Tal Abyad. As Syrian Kurdish fighters closed in on the outskirts of the town, residents fled to the Turkish border by the thousands, but were stopped by barbed wire fences, trenches, and Turkish security forces firing warning shots and using water cannons to keep them back. At one point over the weekend, ISIS militants appeared to come between the refugees and the border fence on the Syrian side, urging them to return to the city center—under the watch of Turkish soldiers on the other side of the fence. The following day, a rush of desperate refugees returned, breaking through the border fences and pouring across into Turkey, where authorities were accommodating them. Despite recent attempts by the Turkish government to limit the flow of Syrian refugees, they agreed to re-open the border on Sunday, anticipating another 10,000 refugees.
Three months ago, thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish troops, supported by the United States, France, Britain,