SEMALKA, Syria/ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) – Made homeless when Turkish shells slammed into his house in northern Syria, Kurdish day labourer Suleiman Mohamed and his family spent 10 days in desperate search of shelter nearby.
Now all they want is to reach neighbouring Iraq.
They are among at least 160,000 Syrian Kurds that the United Nations says fled their homes following the start of a Turkish assault on northeastern Syria. His hometown of Ras al-Ain was one of the targets hit in Turkish air strikes.
The advance began shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his forces were withdrawing from the area, giving Ankara more room to pursue its Syrian Kurdish militia enemies without the risk of clashing directly with the Americans.
Mohammed has been moving from town to town in the northeast, sleeping in schools packed with other displaced people. At one point he tried to rent a house before giving up and heading to the border with Iraq.
Some 5,000 have made it across the border in the past week, aid groups said on Monday. Many use smugglers paying up to $1,500 per family, some of those who made to camps on the Iraqi side of the border told Reuters last week.