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.
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.
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.
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 neighboring Iraq and has proclaimed a caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.
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.
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.