Date
17 August 2017
Kurdish children from the Syrian town of Kobani flash victory signs at a refugee camp in the southeastern town of Suruc. Photo: Reuters
Kurdish children from the Syrian town of Kobani flash victory signs at a refugee camp in the southeastern town of Suruc. Photo: Reuters

Turkey to open passage to Kobani, US drops arms in besieged town

Turkey said it will allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to reinforce fellow Kurds in the Syrian border town of Kobani, while the United States air-dropped arms to help the Kurds resist an Islamic State onslaught, Reuters reported.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was facilitating the passage of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces, who are also fighting the Islamic State in Iraq.

Turkey’s refusal to intervene in the fight with the Islamic State has frustrated the United States and sparked lethal riots in southeastern Turkey by Kurds furious at Ankara’s inaction.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington had asked Ankara to help “get the peshmerga or other groups” into Kobani so they could help defend the town, adding he hoped the Kurds would “take this fight on”. The European Union also urged Turkey on Monday to open its border to allow supplies to get through to residents of Kobani.

If the reinforcements come through, it may mark a turning point in the battle for Kobani, a town where Syrian Kurds have struggled for weeks against better-armed Islamist militants, the news agency said.

Ankara views the Syrian Kurds with deep suspicion because of their ties to the PKK, a group that waged a decades-long militant campaign for Kurdish rights in Turkey and which Washington regards as a terrorist organization.

Speaking in Indonesia, Kerry said both he and President Barack Obama had spoken to Turkish authorities before the air drops “to make it very, very clear this is not a shift of policy by the United States”.

“It is a crisis moment, an emergency where we clearly do not want to see Kobani become a horrible example of the unwillingness of people to be able to help those who are fighting ISIL,” he added.

US Central Command said US Air Force C-130 aircraft had dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to allow the Kurdish fighters to keep up their resistance in the besieged town.

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