Disaster: 130,000 refugees flee ISIS, cross into Turkey

Over the last four days, a new offensive by ISIS terrorists has captured five dozen or more towns in Syria, and that has prompted the most acute refugee crisis of the civil war. A wave of refugees estimated as large as 130,000 people has surged into Turkey, which at one point attempted to close their borders. And this might just be the beginning:

The number of Syrian refugees who have reached Turkey in the past four days after fleeing advancing ISIS militants now totals 130,000 and could rise further, Turkey’s deputy prime minister warned on Monday. “A refugee wave that can be expressed by hundreds of thousands is a possibility,” said Numan Kurtulmus warned. …

“This is not a natural disaster… What we are faced with is a man-made disaster,” Kurtulmus said. “An uncontrollable force at the other side of the border is attacking civilians.”

NBC also published this video from the weekend of Turkey’s attempts to manage this wave of displaced Syrians, mainly Kurds who fled just ahead of the terrorists. It’s not exactly the welcome mat:

On the other hand, the Turks did successfully retrieve dozens of their diplomatic personnel, who got captured in the fall of Mosul:

There was some good news this morning, as the ISIS offensive ground to a halt at one key strategic point of Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. Kurdish forces, joined by refugee irregulars, pushed ISIS to a stalemate around Kobani:

Syrian Kurdish fighters have halted an advance by Islamic State fighters to the east of a predominantly Kurdish town near the border with Turkey, a spokesman for the main armed Kurdish group said.

“Fierce clashes are still under way but the ISIS (Islamic State) advance to the east of Kobani has been halted since last night,” Redur Xelil, spokesman for the main Kurdish armed group, the YPG, said via Skype. …

The offensive is Islamic State’s second attempt to take Kobani since June, when it staged a lightning advance across northern Iraq, seizing the city of Mosul and with it Iraqi weaponry including American-made hardware that the Syrian Kurds say is now being used against them.

The previous attack on Kobani, in July, was fought off with the help of Kurds who crossed the border from Turkey. Xelil said hundreds had crossed from Turkey again to help repel the current offensive.

“There have been no reinforcements apart from some Kurdish youths from Turkey,” he said.

On Saturday afternoon, the number of refugees in this wave had already reached 60,000, as Lester Holt asked Chuck Todd whether there was a disconnect between the generals and Barack Obama on the strategy on ISIS. You bet, Todd replies, and the disconnect is on the realistic chances of defeating ISIS without controlling any ground in Iraq and Syria. Todd reports that the “coalition of nearly 50 nations” doesn’t include a single one willing to provide ground troops:

This is not merely a terrorist network, and hasn’t been for months, if not years. It is an army — an army of marauders and despicable thugs, but an army nonetheless. It controls ground, acts strategically as well as tactically, and it has enough funding and recruitment to grow and seize more ground. The only way to defeat an army and get them to surrender ground is to have a better army on the ground to take it away. Until that happens — with or without American combat troops — we will not put a dent in ISIS’ ambitions. It’s a man-made disaster of another kind until the world gets serious about the real threat of ISIS.