Turkey, U.S. Warn Syrian City Will Soon FallPosted: October 7, 2014
Both Countries Urge the Other to Halt ISIS Advance on Kobani
Turkey and the U.S. warned that a major Syrian border city was in imminent danger of falling to Islamic State, with the two countries putting the onus on the other to halt the extremist group’s advance.
“You can’t end this terrorism just by airstrikes. If you don’t support them on the ground by cooperating with those who take up a ground operation, the airstrikes won’t do it.”
— Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressed the U.S.-led coalition on Tuesday to move ahead with plans to arm and train Syrian and Iraqi ground forces to battle Islamic State, saying airstrikes alone weren’t enough.
An American military official said the U.S. believes the situation in the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani is increasingly dire, and that the city is likely to fall shortly if Turkey doesn’t intervene.
The complications for Turkey stemming from the advance on Kobani were mounting rapidly. Beyond U.S. pressure to step in, protests by the country’s restive Kurds were spreading quickly. At least a dozen people were killed in clashes with security forces in several Kurdish-majority cities, local media reported. The demonstrations reached Istanbul.
Airstrikes Tuesday by the coalition fighting Islamic State hit positions near Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab. But Kurdish officials and Syrian opposition members said the militants were still advancing against Syrian Kurdish fighters.
Mr. Erdogan declared Kobani was “about to fall” while he was visiting a refugee camp in the border province of Gaziantep.
“You can’t end this terrorism just by airstrikes,” he said. “If you don’t support them on the ground by cooperating with those who take up a ground operation, the airstrikes won’t do it.”
The U.S. and its partners have conducted hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State in recent weeks. But they have so far ruled out the deployment of their own ground forces, opting instead to train and support local forces.
U.S. defense officials reiterated Tuesday that they are not going to directly coordinate operations with any force on the ground in Syria until at least some of the vetted moderate rebels have been through upcoming military training and are ready to enter the fight.
“We are not there now. We need a core of trained fighters,” the U.S. military official said.
U.S. defense officials said while they remain deeply concerned about the city, there is little they can do to push back the Islamic State advance.
“We are applying pressure where we can,” said the military official. “The limitation of not having a partner on the ground has proved challenging.”
Another complication is the fight around Kobani is being led by a Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. Aiding or cooperating with those local Syrian Kurds poses problems for Turkey and the U.S. which both designate the PKK a terrorist group….(read more)
photo: Agence-France Presse/Getty Images
- Turkey: Syrian town poised to fall to militants (journalstar.com)
- ISIS poised to capture Syrian town of Kobani, Turkish president says (mercurynews.com)
- Turkey: Strategic Syrian Border Town ‘Is About to Fall’ to Islamic State Militants (theblaze.com)
- ISIS Dares Turkey to Save Kobani (theatlantic.com)
- Islamic State poised to capture Syrian border town (nzherald.co.nz)