Syrian refugees 'return to Tal Abyad' after IS defeat

Syrian refugees 'return to Tal Abyad' after IS defeat
Refugees were reported to be returning to the town of Tal Abyad Wednesday, with Syrian rebel groups accuse Kurdish forces, which entered the town earlier, of 'ethnic cleansing'.
2 min read
17 June, 2015
Some of the Syrians who fled from the battle return to their town (Anadolu)
Some 200 men, women and children carrying their meagre possessions crossed back into Syria through the Turkish border post of Akcakale Wednesday, after it was confirmed that the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian units from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) liberated the city from IS.

The Kurds and their Syrian rebel allies launched a two-pronged attack on Tal Abyad on June 11, backed by air strikes against IS positions by the US-led coalition.

The fierce battles sparked an exodus of more than 23,000 refugees into neighbouring Turkey.

Accusations of 'ethnic cleansing'

More than a dozen Syrian rebel groups accused the YPG of committing "ethnic cleansing" against Arabs and Turkmen in northern Syria.

Also, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc accused YPG fighters of "ethnic cleansing" in northern Syria as they drove IS back.

The claim is backed by an extensive report in The Times newspaper on the displacement of Sunni Arabs in areas under the control of Kurdish militia. The British newspaper based its report on an unnamed source from one of the largest humanitarian organisations working inside Syria.

However, there is little evidence to substantiate the accusation. Syrian rebel militants shared a video showing buildings burning in the distance and unverified photos of displacement as proof of Kurdish cleansing attempts.

On the other hand, the FSA forces fighting with the YPG are mostly comprised of Arabs from Tal Abyad and surrounding areas. They were not only pivotal in the fighting, but also in providing strategic guidance in a town they either belong to or are familiar with.