Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Turkey to allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to join ISIS battle

Turkish tank overlooks the town of Kobane during fighting between Kurds
Turkey is to allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross the Syrian border to fight Islamic State militants in Kobane, in what is being seen as a policy reversal, BBC reports.

Foreign Minister, Evlut Cavusoglu, said talks on the subject were continuing.

Tens of thousands of people have fled months of fighting in Kobane between IS forces and Syrian Kurd defenders.

The announcement came shortly after the United States carried out air drops of weapons to the town’s Kurdish fighters.

Meanwhile the US-led coalition has carried out its first air strike of the day, against IS positions in the south-west of the town, says the BBC’s Kasra Naji on the Turkish border.

US Central Command later confirmed six strikes near Kobane over Sunday and Monday, as well as six in Iraq near Falluja and Baiji involving French and United Kingdom aircraft.

Our correspondent says Kobane has been largely quiet for the second day running, with Kurdish fighters apparently having driven IS militants from most of the town.

But the Turkish government decision is nevertheless a major boost for the defenders’ morale, he adds, and soon for their fighting capability.

After refusing permission for fighters to cross its territory to join the Kurdish militia in Syria it has made a U-turn of sorts, assisting Peshmerga fighters to enter Kobane, probably by providing safe passage through Turkey, though the details are not yet known.

But there is a delicate political dance here. On Sunday, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took his traditional tough line on the Kurdish militia in Syria, calling them “terrorists” and saying that they must not be armed by Turkey or the US.

Then Washington went ahead and did just that, dropping weapons to Kurdish fighters around Kobane, quite possibly with tacit Turkish approval during a phone call that took place between the two presidents.

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