A Syrian refugee family in southern Turkey, where more than 20,000 people have fled to so far in early 2014 to escape fighting. UNHCR Photo

20 September 2014 ? Alarmed by reports that thousands of civilians in northern Syria have been forced from their homes by the latest Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) offensive in the area, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has demanded an immediate end to the violence.

?The Secretary-General is closely following the continuing offensive by the terrorist group ISIL in the town of Ayn al-Arab in northern Syria,? according to a statement issued in New York by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson late last evening.

According to reports, thousands of Syrians have crossed into Turkey since yesterday ahead of an advance by ISIL militants who have seized dozens of villages close to the border and are advancing on Ayan al-Arab.

Alarmed by the reports that thousands of civilians are on the run, the UN chief stressed in his statement the numbers may rise significantly if the ISIL offensive is not stopped.

?The Secretary-General calls for an immediate end to the violence. He welcomes the decision of the Turkish Government to allow some of those affected to cross the border into safety,? the statement concluded.

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