The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 600 Kurds from the villages of Tel Akhdar, Tel Fandar and the town of Tel Abyad had abandoned their homes after warnings from ISIS.

The NGO said ISIS had also detained dozens of Kurds in the area, releasing them with a warning to leave their village in the northern province, where the jihadist group has a strong presence.

It said more than 500 had entered Turkey, with others fleeing to the nearby town of Ain al-Arab.

ISIS has fought bloody battles against Syria’s Kurds, who have otherwise largely stayed out of the Syrian conflict, focusing on building autonomy in Syrian Kurdistan region (Rojava) [Kurdish areas in northern Syria].

It considers them infidels and has also sought to take control of oil resources in Kurdish areas.

The jihadists’ stronghold is in Raqa’s provincial capital of the same name, the only capital to fall from regime hands.

ISIS has been consolidating its hold in the province and its capital since earlier this year when it was forced to withdraw from other parts of rebel-held territory when moderate and Islamist opposition groups turned against it.

The group, which began in neighbouring Iraq, is accused by the opposition of carrying out abuses against civilians and rival rebels and imposing its harsh interpretation of Islam by force.

Syrian Kurds declared their own autonomous Kurdish region (Western Kurdistan, Rojava) in November 2013.

Following Jazeera (Cizîre) and Kobanê (Ayn al-Arab) cantons, Efrin (Afrin) has officially proclaimed the establishment of its government of Democratic Autonomy in January 2014.

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