Middle East

Turkish police tear-gas BBC team near Syrian border

Related Topics
Media captionPaul Adams and his team were filming when the attack took place

A BBC team filming tensions on the Turkish-Syrian border has been tear-gassed by Turkish police as it left protests by local and Syrian Kurds.

Police fired two canisters towards the team, one of which smashed into their car, filling it with gas.

The incident occurred near Kobane, the scene of fierce fighting between advancing Islamic State (IS) militants and Syrian Kurds defending the town.

Kurds in Turkey are angry at perceived Turkish inaction in the battle.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption A rocket apparently fell on a house across the Turkish border during fierce fighting around Kobane

At the scene: Paul Adams, BBC News, Suruc

Possibly prompted by a rocket, which landed in a house on the Turkish side of the border, the authorities decided to evacuate the whole area.

It was done with a heavy hand, using volleys of tear gas. Kurdish activists scattered across the fields, pursued by white clouds of gas.

We stopped to film a final piece to camera before leaving. Across the field, people were rushing to attend to a body lying prone in the dirt.

A white police truck approached and fired a tear gas canister which bounded along the track beside us.

As we clambered into our vehicle and started to leave, a second canister smashed through the rear window. It had been fired from no more than 10 feet away and could easily have killed anyone it hit.

The van quickly filled with choking tear gas. Curtains and upholstery started to catch fire. As we coughed and spluttered on the ground outside, our quick thinking driver and safety adviser put the fire out.

As we drove into the nearby town of Suruc, angry Kurdish youths were putting rocks across the road and brandishing stones. They were spoiling for a fight.

Meanwhile activists from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say a female Kurdish fighter has carried out a suicide attack on IS positions in the east of Kobane, killing a number of jihadists.

US-led forces have been conducting air strikes on IS positions in the area to try to slow their advance.

The strikes appeared to have slowed the IS advance, although the jihadists had captured part of a strategically important hill which would make it easier to take the town itself, the activists added.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption None of the injuries in the Turkish incident are thought to be life-threatening
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Turkish forces are patrolling the border but have so far taken no action against IS
Image copyright AP
Image caption The fighting in Kobane is clearly visible from the Turkish side of the border

The militants have been besieging the town for nearly three weeks. More than 160,000 Syrians, mainly Kurds, have fled across the border since the offensive was launched.

Capturing the town, also known as Ayn al-Arab, would give IS unbroken control of a long stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border.

Turkish Kurds and refugees have clashed with Turkish security forces on the border for the last two days.

They are angry and disappointed at Turkey's perceived inaction over IS in recent months, as well as its refusal to allow them to cross into Syria to fight.

Last week, Turkey pledged to prevent Kobane from falling to the militants and its parliament has authorised military operations against militants in Iraq and Syria.

But it appears to have taken no action so far to prevent the fighting.

Correspondents says Turkey is reluctant to lend support to the Kurdish forces in the town because they are allied to the PKK, banned as a terrorist organisation in Turkey.