Turkey has agreed to train and equip a moderate opposition in Syria to help battle the self-declared Islamic State, the U.S. State Department says.
“There will be a planning team traveling to Ankara next week to continue planning that through military channels,” spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters, describing a visit to Turkey by two senior U.S. officials.
The remarks come as France today expressed support Ankara’s call for a buffer zone between Syria and Turkey and the United Nations warned that hundreds of civilians trapped in the border town of Kobani face a possible massacre if ISIS militants succeed in their offensive aimed at capturing it.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Friday: “We support the idea of a buffer zone,” although he said such a move would require “extremely close international coordination.”
Turkey’s request to establish a no-fly zone in the area has met with little enthusiasm by the U.S. and NATO.
Meanwhile, The Associated Press quotes Staffan de Mistura, a special U.N. envoy to Syria, as warning that at least 500 civilians trapped in Kobani are likely to be “massacred” if it falls to the Islamic State group.
The AP writes that De Mistura “raised the specter of some of the worst genocides of the 20th century during a news conference in Geneva, where he held up a map of the town along the Syria-Turkey border and said a U.N. analysis shows only a small corridor remains open for people to enter or flee Kobani.”
The BBC says there have been reports that the Islamic State has seized control of the Kurdish headquarters in the city, but that a Syrian Kurdish official has denied that.
The U.S. Central Command says that U.S. fighters, along with warplanes from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, carried out airstrikes on Thursday and Friday around the southeast of Kobani and in Deir al-Zour, in eastern Syria.