Turkey to allow Iraqi Kurds to join battle against ISIS in Kobani
Turkey will finally help Iraqi Kurdish fighters to reach the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani where their fellow Kurds have been fighting Islamic State militants for over a month, Ankara has said.
“We are facilitating the passage of peshmerga forces to Kobani to provide support. Our talks on this subject are continuing,” Reuters quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying.
During a press conference, the foreign minister stated that Ankara doesn’t want Kobani to fall into the hands of the violent jihadist group, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), which has seized large areas of Syria and Iraq.
He also said that the Turkish authorities are "fully cooperating with the international coalition over Kobani."
However, Cavusoglu stopped short of saying that Ankara supports Washington’s decision to supply weapons to the Kurdish troops fighting for Kobani.
Arms and medical supplies, which the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq gathered for their fellow Kurds in Syria, were airdropped by the US military planes near the besieged town on Sunday.
The Turkish FM said that “we want the region to be cleared of all threats. We assess the military and medical materials aid provided by our Iraqi Kurdish brothers and airdropped by the US to all forces defending Kobani in this framework.”
The statement echoes the words of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said on Sunday that the Syrian Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) in Kobani is "no different" to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The PKK is banned in Turkey as a terrorist organization for leading a 30-year struggle against Ankara in order to create a Kurdish autonomous region in southeastern Turkey.
Cavusoglu has urged the PYD to give up the idea of carving out autonomous Kurdish regions in Syria and to start cooperating with the opposition Free Syrian Army group, which is fighting to overthrow against Ankara’s long-time foe, Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"For as long as the PYD maintains these aims, it will not receive the support of the FSA and Turkey," he said.
The foreign minister also said that the airspace of Turkey wasn’t used by the US to perform airdrops to the Kurds.
On Monday, US Secretary of Stat John Kerry said that Washington understood Turkey's concerns about supplying arms to the Kurds.
But he stressed that in the current situation it would be "irresponsible" and "morally very difficult" not to support the Kurdish troops, who are fighting the Islamic State in Kobani, AP reports.
Turkey’s unwillingness to join the battle against the Islamic State on the ground has drawn angry comments from Washington.
It also sparked violent Kurdish riots in southeastern Turkey as protestors demanded Ankara to at least open a land corridor for volunteer fighters and reinforcements – a claim, which has now been fulfilled.
READ MORE:Turkey offers to train, equip Syrian rebels in fight against ISIS
Turkey has a difficult relationship with the 15 million Kurds living in the country and the representatives of the stateless ethnic group residing in neighboring Iraq and Syria.
Ankara views the Iraqi Kurds (KRG) as an ally, but its attempts to reach peace with the Turkish Kurds (PKK) has failed, with the situation deterioration over the events in Kobani.
As for the Syrian Kurds (PYD), the Turkish authorities demand them to join the battle against Assad in Syria.
On Monday, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that Washington understood Turkey's concerns about supplying arms to the Kurds.