ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey's deputy prime minister said Monday the number of Syrian refugees who've reached his nation in the past four days after fleeing the advance of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) totaled 130,000. And, he said, that number could rise.
The refugees have been flooding into Turkey since Thursday, escaping an ISIS offensive that has pushed the conflict nearly within eyeshot of the Turkish border. More than a million Syrians have been pushed over the border in the past 3½ years.
The deputy prime minister (Numan Kurtulmus) said Turkey was faced with a "man-made disaster."
"We don't know how many more villages may be raided, how many more people may be forced to seek refuge," he said.
As refugees flooded in, Turkey on Sunday closed a border crossing to Turkish Kurds in a move aimed at preventing them from joining the fight in Syria. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a day earlier that hundreds of Kurdish fighters had poured into Syria through the small Turkish village.
Turkey is on the frontline in both Syria's and Iraq's battle with ISIS -- also known by the acronym ISIL, and which has declared itself simply the "Islamic State." The group has claimed a vast swath of territory spanning the border between the two nations, which both share a border to the north with Turkey.
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CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, reporting for "60 Minutes," met Kurdish "pershmerga" troops holding ISIS at bay on the Iraqi frontline recently. The head of Kurdish intelligence in the region told Pelley that ISIS probably has 40,000 fighters on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border, and they are armed to the teeth with weapons purchased by American tax dollars.
"I think everybody underestimated the strength of ISIS, especially with all the weapons they seized from the Syrian army and the Iraqi army," Masrour Barzani told Pelley. "Five Iraqi divisions melted away and, you know, they just left their weapons, which fell into the hands of ISIS."
Pelley also saw first-hand the human cost of ISIS' advance in the region, meeting with victims of the brutal group's rampage through villages and towns in northern Iraq.
He met men who were rounded up for mass-execution by ISIS militants simply for belonging to a sect of Islam that the group doesn't recognize as Muslim, and women who were taken as prisoners to be sold as sex slaves to other members of the group.