Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Some 130,000 Syrians reach Turkey, fleeing IS <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>The number of Syrian refugees who have reached Turkey in the past four days after fleeing the advance of Islamic State militants now totals 130,000, Turkey&#39;s deputy prime minister said Monday.<br /><br />Numan Kurtulmus warned that the number could rise further but insisted that Turkey was ready to react to &quot;the worst case scenario.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;I hope that we are not faced with a more populous refugee wave, but if we are, we have taken our precautions,&quot; Kurtulmus said. &quot;A refugee wave that can be expressed by hundreds of thousands is a possibility.&quot;<br /><br />The refugees have been flooding into Turkey since Thursday, escaping an Islamic State offensive that has pushed the conflict nearly within eyeshot of the Turkish border. The conflict in Syria has pushed more than a million people over the border in the past 3&frac12; years.<br /><br />The al-Qaida breakaway group, which has established an Islamic state, or caliphate, ruled by its harsh version of Islamic law in territory it captured straddling the Syria-Iraq border, has in recent days advanced into Kurdish regions of Syria that border Turkey, where fleeing refugees on Sunday reported atrocities that included stonings, beheadings and the torching of homes.<br /><br />&quot;This is not a natural disaster... What we are faced with is a man-made disaster,&quot; Kurtulmus said. We don&#39;t know how many more villages may be raided, how many more people may be forced to seek refuge. We don&#39;t know.<br /><br />&quot;An uncontrollable force at the other side of the border is attacking civilians. The extent of the disaster is worse than a natural disaster,&quot; he said.<br /><br />As refugees flooded in, Turkey on Sunday closed the border crossing at Kucuk Kendirciler to Turkish Kurds in a move aimed at preventing them from joining the fight in Syria. A day earlier, hundreds of Kurdish fighters had poured into Syria through the small Turkish village, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.</p> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:37:00 +0000 AP 2438523 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/09/21/484151/download_5.jpg PM promises jail for returning Australian jihadists <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday warned Australians fighting with extremists in the Middle East they face lengthy jail terms if they return home as the government tightens counter-terrorism laws.<br /><br />&quot;My unambiguous message to all Australians who fight with terrorist groups is that you will be arrested, prosecuted and jailed for a very long time,&quot; Abbott told parliament in a statement on national security.<br /><br />Australia is targeting domestic extremists as well as citizens who fight overseas with violent jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq before returning home.<br /><br />&quot;Our laws are being changed to make it easier to keep potential terrorists off our streets,&quot; Abbott said after the biggest security crackdown in Australian history last Thursday saw more than 800 police officers raid some 30 homes.<br /><br />A 22-year-old man was charged with planning a terrorist act.<br /><br />The government said it had foiled a plot by Islamic State (IS) jihadists to carry out gruesome &quot;demonstration executions&quot; in Australia.<br /><br />&quot;An Australian ISIL operative instructed his followers to pluck people from the street to demonstrate that they could, in his words, &#39;kill kafirs (non-believers)&#39;,&quot; Abbott said, using an alternative acronym for the group.<br /><br />Sixty Australians are known to be fighting in Iraq and Syria, more than 20 have already returned to Australia while at least another 100 actively support the jihadists, Abbott said.<br /><br />The government considers current legislation inadequate to fight the threats from groups such as the Islamic State and is pushing two bills through parliament this week.<br /><br />Attorney-General George Brandis has drawn up a bill to give security agencies greater powers and another to deal with the threat from so-called &quot;foreign fighters&quot; returning from combat with extremists abroad.<br /><br />&quot;Legislation to create new terrorist offences and to extend existing powers to monitor or to detain terror suspects will be introduced this week,&quot; the prime minister said.<br /><br />Abbott added that if the security forces made a case for further powers his government&#39;s inclination would be to back them.<br /><br />&quot;As well, legislation requiring telecommunications providers to keep the metadata they already create and to continue to make it available to police and security agencies will be introduced soon,&quot; he said.<br /><br /><strong>&#39;No-go areas&#39;&nbsp;</strong><br /><br />Under the new powers, which are expected to have broad bi-partisan support, it will be illegal for an individual to intentionally counsel, promote, encourage or urge a terrorist act, according to Brandis.<br /><br />The bills will also allow for bans on visits to cities or regions where terror groups are declared to be active. People travelling to such &quot;no-go areas&quot; without a valid reason could face prosecution.<br /><br />&quot;It will be an offence to be in a designated area, for example Raqa in Syria, without a good reason,&quot; Abbott said.<br /><br />He regretted that &quot;for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we&#39;re used to, and more inconvenience than we&#39;d like.<br /><br />&quot;Creating new offences that are harder to beat on a technicality may be a small price to pay for saving lives and for maintaining the social fabric of an open, free and multicultural nation,&quot; he said.<br /><br />The crackdown has provoked little protest from rights activists and been generally supported by the opposition Labor party.<br /><br />The government has earmarked an additional Aus$630 million (US$563 million) to bolster security and stepped up protection at public places across the country, including parliament.<br /><br />Abbott flies Tuesday to New York to attend a special session of the security council chairmed by US President Barack Obama to deal with the threat of foreign fighters.<br /><br />Canberra has also committed 600 troops and aircraft to the US-led coalition gearing up to destroy the IS organisation in Iraq.</p> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:34:00 +0000 AFP 2438522 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/09/02/94/islamic_state_fighters.png Ukraine says ceasefire violations hold up creation of buffer zone <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>&nbsp;The Ukrainian military accused separatists and Russian troops on Sunday of continuing to shoot at government forces despite a 5 Sept ceasefire and said Kiev would not go ahead with setting up a proposed buffer zone until the truce violations stopped.<br /><br />Ukraine&#39;s warring sides agreed on Friday to withdraw artillery and other heavy weapons to the outer limits of a 30 km (19 mile) buffer zone, building on the ceasefire in a conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 3,000 people.<br /><br />Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the pro-Russian separatists and Russian troops were continuing to target the positions of government forces.<br /><br />&quot;In the last 24 hours we have lost two Ukrainian soldiers, eight have been wounded,&quot; he told reporters on Sunday.<br /><br />Asked about the buffer zone, he said: &quot;One of the main points of the agreement is the ceasefire, then other points follow.<br /><br />&quot;At the moment the first point has not been fulfilled so we are not talking about the other points. If there is to be a withdrawal of forces then it should be synchronized together with the withdrawal of Russian forces,&quot; he said.<br /><br />Lysenko said separatists had carried out a further attack on the government-held international airport of Donetsk, the east&#39;s main industrial hub. The rebels hold the city of Donetsk.<br /><br />He said 40 separatist fighters had been killed in &quot;defensive&quot; fire by Ukrainian forces. There was no independent confirmation of this figure.</p><p><strong>Ceasefire &quot;In Name Only&quot;</strong></p><p>Lysenko&#39;s comments echoed those of NATO&#39;s top military commander U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, who said on Saturday that fighting was continuing in Ukraine and that the truce was a ceasefire &quot;in name only&quot;.<br /><br />&quot;The situation in Ukraine is not good right now,&quot; U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove told reporters in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius following a meeting of chiefs of defense of NATO countries. &quot;Basically, we have a ceasefire in name only.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;The number of events, and the number of rounds fired and the artillery used across the past few days, match some of the pre-ceasefire levels. The ceasefire is still there in name, but what is happening on the ground is quite a different story.&quot;<br /><br />Donetsk was rocked by blasts on Saturday and a plant producing industrial explosives and military munitions appeared to have been hit.<br /><br />The creation of a buffer zone was decided on Friday in a nine-point memorandum signed by the separatists and envoys from Moscow and Kiev.<br /><br />The comments by Kiev and NATO underline the fragility of the ceasefire, which President Petro Poroshenko reluctantly called after Ukrainian forces suffered battlefield reverses which they ascribed to the direct intervention by Russian troops.<br /><br />Moscow denies sending troops to Ukraine or arming the rebels, despite what Kiev and Western governments say is overwhelming evidence of direct Russian involvement.</p> Sun, 21 Sep 2014 13:52:00 +0000 Reuters 2438516 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/06/24/94/ukrainian_servicemen_are_pictured_at_the_military_camp_near_the_town_of_svyatogorsk_in_eastern_ukraine.jpg About 60,000 Syrian Kurds flee to Turkey from Islamic State advance <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>About 60,000 Syrian Kurds fled into Turkey in the space of 24 hours, a deputy prime minister said on Saturday, as Islamic State militants seized dozens of villages close to the border.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Turkey opened a stretch of the frontier on Friday after Kurdish civilians fled their homes, fearing an imminent attack on the border town of Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobani. A Kurdish commander on the ground said Islamic State had advanced to within 15 km (9 miles) of the town.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Local Kurds said they feared a massacre in Kobani, whose strategic location has been blocking the radical Sunni Muslim militants from consolidating their gains across northern Syria.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The United States has said it is prepared to carry out airstrikes in Syria to stop the advances of Islamic State, which has also seized tracts of territory in neighbouring Iraq and has proclaimed a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>U.S. forces have bombed the group in Iraq at the request of the government, but it is unclear when or where any military action might take place in Syria, whose president, Bashar al-Assad, Washington says is no longer legitimate.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lokman Isa, a 34-year-old farmer, said he had fled with his family and about 30 other families after heavily armed Islamic State militants entered his village of Celebi. He said the Kurdish forces battling them had only light weapons.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;They (Islamic State) have destroyed every place they have gone to. We saw what they did in Iraq -- in Sinjar -- and we fled in fear,&quot; he told Reuters in the Turkish town of Suruc, where Turkish authorities were setting up a camp.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sitting in a field after just crossing the border, Abdullah Shiran, a 24-year-old engineer, recounted scenes of horror in his village of Shiran, about 10 km (six miles) from Kobani.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;IS came and attacked and we left with the women but the rest of the men stayed behind ... They killed many people in the villages, cutting their throats. We were terrified that they would cut our throats too,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Huddling in fields</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Turkish soldiers looked on as the refugees, many of them women carrying bundles on their heads, streamed across. Hundreds of people huddled in the dusty fields with their few belongings.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus put the number of Syrian Kurds to have crossed the 30-km section of the border that has been open since Friday at 60,000. Officials said many thousands were still waiting to cross on Saturday evening.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The United States, Turkey, Russia, friendly countries must help us. They must bomb Islamic State. All they can do is cut off heads, they have nothing to do with Islam,&quot; said Mustafa Saleh, a 30-year-old water industry worker.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I would have fought to my last drop of blood against Islamic State, but I had to bring the women and children.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kurdish forces have evacuated at least 100 villages on the Syrian side since the militants&#39; onslaught started on Tuesday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Islamic State sees Kobani like a lump in the body, they think it is in their way,&quot; said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors Syria&#39;s civil war.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Islamic State has executed at least 11 Kurdish civilians, including boys, in the villages it has seized near Kobani, the Observatory said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Abdulrahman said more than 300 Kurdish fighters had crossed into Syria from Turkey late on Friday to help push back Islamic State, but that it was not clear which group they belonged to.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Islamic State is killing any civilian it finds in a village,&quot; Mustefa Ebdi, director of a local radio station called Arta FM, told Reuters by telephone from the northern outskirts of Kobani. He said he could see thousands of people waiting to cross the border into Turkey.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;People prefer to flee rather than remain and die,&quot; he said. &quot;(Islamic State wants) to eliminate anything that is Kurdish. This is creating a state of terror.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On his Facebook page, Ebdi said the killing of 34 civilians - women, elderly, children and the disabled - had been documented. He said the residents of 200 villages had been forced to flee.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Closing in</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Scrambling to coordinate aid, the mayor of Suruc, Orhan Sansal, described the situation in the area as &quot;chaotic&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Help is coming but there are problems with accommodation. Some people are staying with relatives, some in wedding halls, some in mosques and municipal buildings,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Esmat al-Sheikh, commander of the Kurdish forces defending Kobani, told Reuters by telephone that clashes were occurring to the north and east on Saturday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He said Islamic State fighters using rockets, artillery, tanks and armoured vehicles had advanced towards Kobani overnight and were now only 15 km away.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At least 18 Islamic State fighters were killed in clashes with Syrian Kurds overnight as the militant group took control of more villages around the town, according to the Observatory.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani called on Friday for international intervention to protect Kobani from the Islamic State advance, saying the insurgents must be &quot;hit and destroyed wherever they are&quot;.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Western states have increased contact with the main Syrian Kurdish political party, the PYD, whose armed wing is the YPG, since Islamic State made a lightning advance across northern Iraq in June.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The YPG says it has 50,000 fighters and should be a natural partner in the coalition the United States is trying to build.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But such cooperation could prove difficult because of Syrian Kurds&#39; ties to the Kurdistan Workers&#39; Party (PKK), a group listed as a terrorist organisation by many Western states due to the militant campaign it has waged for Kurdish rights in Turkey.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The PKK on Thursday called on young men in Turkey&#39;s mainly Kurdish southeast to join the fight against Islamic State. On Saturday Kobani&#39;s local radio station broadcast a call to arms from PKK commander Murat Karayilan in Kurdish.</div> Sun, 21 Sep 2014 00:49:00 +0000 Reuters 2438498 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/09/21/484151/download_5.jpg