Turkey says it is assisting Iraqi Kurdish fighters in crossing into Syria to aid their brethren in the embattled city of Kobani, where Kurds have fought a fierce defense action for weeks against besieging Islamic State militants.
“We are assisting peshmerga forces [Iraqi Kurds] to cross into Kobani,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara. He added: “We have no wish at all to see Kobani fall.”
Cavusoglu offered no details.
His remarks come after weeks in which Ankara appeared to dither over the situation just over its border, refusing to send in troops stationed on the border while also blocking its own Kurds from helping in the Syrian fight. It was unclear whether fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, who have fought Turkey for decades to achieve greater autonomy, would also be allowed to cross the border.
The news also follows an announcement by the U.S. Central Command, which is overseeing operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, that American C-130 cargo planes had begun airdrops of small arms, ammunition and medical supplies to Kobani’s defenders.
The BBC says: “Turkey has come under pressure from its own Kurdish population, and more widely, to allow fighters in to help push IS out of the town, which has become highly symbolic of the wider battle against IS.”