In June 2015, Kurdish forces — supported by the Free Syrian Army and US-led coalition airstrikes — drove out the Islamic State (IS) from the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad — a strategically important gain in the battle against the jihadists. Yet the fighting also forced waves of refugees to cross the border into the Turkish town of Akcakale.
The advance on Tal Abyad, containing a diverse population of Arabs, Turkmen, and Kurds, provoked the Turkish government and a coalition of rebel groups to accuse Kurdish forces of “ethnic cleansing” and displacing Arabs and Turkmen — an accusation strongly denied by the Kurdish forces.
Yet allegations of forcible displacement persist among refugees, with some telling VICE News that their hometown is now under another hostile occupation, and others stating that life under IS rule was better.
Many refugees in Akcakale have had to set up camp in parks, or rent overcrowded housing. There is a lack of food and a number of children require immediate medical attention.
VICE News meets the refugees and activists of Tal Abyad, where they describe their new life in Turkey, as well as their fears for the future.
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