Hundreds of Syria Kurds seek refuge in Iraq

Iraqi Kurds protest the Turkish offensive against Syria during a demonstration outside the United Nations building in Irbil, Iraq, in this Oct. 12, 2019 file photo. — Reuters

IRBIL, Iraq — Some 500 Syrian Kurds have entered neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan over the past four days fleeing a Turkish invasion now entering its second week, officials said on Wednesday.

The refugees were taken to camps in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, an official in the border province of Dohuk said.

Iraqi Kurdistan previously hosted more than one million Iraqis who fled fighting with the militants of Daesh (the so-called IS) between 2014 and 2017.

NGOs operating in the region said they had been on alert since Ankara launched its invasion of northern Syria on Oct. 9.

On Saturday evening, 182 Syrian Kurds started crossing the border into Iraqi Kurdistan "to escape bombardments in northeastern Syria", the International Organization for Migration said.

Dohuk province humanitarian affairs chief Ismail Ahmed said they were "Syrian Kurds already living in Iraqi Kurdistan, who went to visit relatives in Syria before returning because of the bombardments."

On Wednesday, fresh fighting was reported in northern Syria pitting Turkey's Syrian proxies against Kurdish forces backed by the Syrian army.

Damascus deployed troops to Kurdish-held areas that had been outside its control since 2012 under an accord with Kurdish authorities announced on Sunday. — AFP