GENEVA : As many as 70,000 Syrian Kurds have poured into Turkey since Friday fleeing an offensive by Islamic State militants in northeastern Syria, the UN’s refugee agency said Sunday.

The UNHCR ‘is stepping up its response to help Turkey come to the aid of an estimated 70,000 Syrians crossing into Turkey’, most in the past 24 hours, the agency said in a statement. Blankets, sleeping mats and kitchen sets were being dispatched, with 20 truckloads of aid already supplied, it said. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, praised Turkey for taking in the refugees. The country is building two camps with UNHCR help to shelter the Syrian Kurds.  Moreover, Turkish security forces used tear gas and water cannon Sunday to disperse a Kurdish demonstration of support for fellow Kurds who fled a militant offensive across the border in Syria. Hundreds of young demonstrators fought back by hurling rocks and setting up barricades on the road leading to a nearby border crossing.

‘We’ve come to support our brothers in Syria under attack by Daesh,’ Turkish Kurdish demonstrator Mehmet Eminakma told AFP, referring to the Islamic State group. He also charged that Turkish authorities were blocking young Syrian Kurds who had accompanied their families to safety inside Turkey from returning to the battlefront.