They died in my arms one by one: Aylan's father

The father of the drowned Syrian boy who was photographed lying lifeless on a Turkish beach has said he no longer wants to continue on to Europe and will take the bodies of his two sons and wife to be buried in Kobani.

Speaking outside the mortuary where the bodies of his two sons were being held, Kurdi said: “I just want to see my children for the last time and stay forever with them.”

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Kurdi described what had happened on board the boat heading for Greece, saying the captain had panicked because of high waves and jumped into the sea, leaving him in control of the small craft.

“I took over and started steering. The waves were so high and the boat flipped. I took my wife and my kids in my arms and I realised they were all dead,” he told AP. Three-year-old Aylan, five-year-old Galip and their mother, Rehan, were among at least 12 people who died on the boat headed for Greece.

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The Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu said police had detained four suspected people smugglers thought to be linked to the tragedy. Anadolu said the four, including at least one Syrian citizen, were detained on a beach on the Bodrum peninsula and would appear in court later on Thursday suspected of acting as intermediaries for illegal crossings.

Mustefa Ebdi, a journalist in Kobani, said the Kurdi family had been forced to move several times during the Syrian conflict and left the country in 2012. He said the correct family name was Shenu, but that Kurdi had been used in Turkey because of their ethnic background.

“They left Damascus in 2012 and headed to Aleppo, and when clashes happened there, they moved to Kobani,” Ebdi told AFP. “And again, when clashes [with Islamic State] happened there, they moved to Turkey.”

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“There’s a terrible story he told about swimming from one to the other, finding one [son] who seemed to be alright and then going to another, finding him drowned … and then going back to the first boy and finding him drowned,” he said.

This week the Turkish coastguard said it had rescued more than 42,000 people in the Aegean Sea in the first five months of 2015, and 2,160 in the past week. More than 100 were pulled from the sea on Wednesday night alone while trying to reach Kos, the coastguard told AFP.

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