Reuters reports: Mariam Bozan Khalil spent days avoiding Syrian rebel militiamen on the road to Iraq, only to be forced to finish her journey on foot through sun-scorched hills.
She is one of more than 40,000 Syrians who have escaped to Iraq’s autonomous northern Kurdish region in the past 10 days. The exodus is one of the biggest cross-border migrations since what is now a civil war between the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and the rebels trying to overthrow him started more than two years ago.
The mainly Kurdish refugees are fleeing groups of fighters that have been seizing control of villages over the border, Khalil said, at a reception camp in the Iraqi frontier village of Suhilla, around 400km (250 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
“We don’t know them. They just come, take power and give themselves a name,” she said, as her 18-month-old son slept spread-eagled on a cloth in front of her. “We don’t know who we are supposed to support. The people, we are just left to be trampled underfoot,” the 28-year-old Kurd said.
The sudden influx of Syrian refugees has brought Iraq’s prosperous and well-armed northern region closer to the conflict which has already killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions. The leader of the autonomous region has promised to protect Kurds over the border from attacks.