After the Islamist AKP party cruised to defeat in last weekend’s parliamentary elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government announced the border would be closed to Syrians fleeing ISIS as “there is no longer a humanitarian tragedy,” in the words of Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş.
Kurtulmuş further claimed Wednesday that people were “fleeing strikes by coalition forces and the progress of Kurdish fighters in the region.”
He laid blame not on the Islamic State but on the anti-ISIS coalition for driving Syrian refugees into Turkey with “reasonless and meaningless” airstrikes.
More than 13,000 Syrian refugees fled across the Turkish border in the first week of June. But a chilling scene unfolded today as families trying to flee to safety faced two enemies with freedom visible on just the other side of the fence: Turkish troops firing water cannons at them, and ISIS forces right at the border, herding them back from the fence.
ISIS activists on Twitter claimed that the terrorists were there to distribute food and water to the refugees, which include Arabs and ethnic Turkmen, and save them from nearby Kurdish YPG forces.
The fear is that ISIS wants to keep the civilians there in Tal Abyad to use the Syrians as human shields as the YPG approaches. “Our people that have been forced to displacement during the ongoing operation against ISIS gangs can settle in Cizîrê Canton cities like Serêkaniyê and Hesekê, without being made to leave Syria and take shelter in other countries,” YPG General Command said in a statement. “The displaced people will be provided with every need of theirs. We will offer all kinds of support in order for our people to turn back home safe after the ending of the operation.”
— Abu Mohammed (@Raqqa_sl1) June 13, 2015
In these images you can see the armed ISIS between the refugees and the fence, eye-to-eye with Turkish troops on the other side.
Buda ayri bir kare. pic.twitter.com/Ub7OmRPmrH
— Hîwa Dîlan (@HiwaDilan92) June 13, 2015
Many on Twitter have been accusing Erdogan of outright allying with ISIS, and investigative reporting by Turkish journalists reveals that Turkish officials have allegedly been selling electricity to the Islamic State:
Before the uprising in Syria broke out, Turkey was delivering electricity to Tel Abyad as part of a deal with the Bashar al-Assad regime to address the energy shortage in northern Syria. The Dicle Electricity Distribution Company (DEDAŞ) continued to deliver power to the northern Syrian city even after the outbreak of the Syrian conflict.
What is more intriguing, the Birgün report reveals, is that the delivery continued even after ISIL captured Tel Abyad, thanks to the alleged collusion between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government in Turkey and ISIL, and has not been affected by later developments. The electricity is provided by three wires near the warehouse of the regional branch of the Turkish Agricultural Board (TMO), right on the border.
While locals in Akçakale sometimes face several cuts during the day, Tel Abyad residents do not endure such problems as DEDAŞ continues to provide electricity to the Syrian town uninterruptedly. The power cuts disrupt irrigation in the rural areas of Akçakale, leading to troubles in the agricultural sector. Turks are paying the price of the electricity provided to ISIL. DEDAŞ, in a written statement on Friday after the piece was published, denied claims of supplying electricity to Tel Abyad.