Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Kobani | Turkey | ISIS

Tensions Rise Between Turkey, US Over ISIS

By    |   Thursday, 09 October 2014 02:40 PM

Tensions are rising between the Obama administration and the government of Turkey on who is responsible for keeping the Syrian border town of Kobani from being overtaken by fighters for the Islamic State (ISIS).

Kurdish fighters in Kobani were still outgunned Thursday, reports The Washington Post, one day after the Pentagon said a series of U.S. airstrikes alone would not save the town.

The Turkish government has refused to send in its own military or offer direct assistance to the Syrian Kurds, leading to further exasperation from the United States at the NATO ally.

"Of course they could do more," a senior official said on Wednesday. "They want the U.S. to come in and take care of the problem."

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Turkey is refusing to help the Kurds, in part, because of a long-standing issue with the Kurdish Workers Party, who are Turkish separatist militants in their own country, reports The Post. The PKK is affiliated with the Kurds, who are fighting against the Islamic State in Kobani, and historically affiliated with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Obama administration is also pushing for Turkey to work harder to prevent foreigners from crossing the country to join the Islamic State militants.

However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday that Turkish troops would also not be enough to halt the Islamic State's advance.

"It is not realistic to expect Turkey to conduct a ground operation on its own," Cavusoglu said in a news conference in Ankara with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. "We are holding talks. ... Once there is a common decision, Turkey will not hold back from playing its part."

He also said Turkey is not ready to step up its efforts to help the coalition fight against the Islamic State unless it also includes removing Assad.

"As long as Assad stays in power, bloodshed and massacres will continue," he said. "The Assad regime is the cause of instability, and therefore a political change is necessary."

Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, meanwhile, said the United States is not at this time considering "a military option" to meet Ankara's demands to establish a buffer zone along the Turkey-Syria border.

However, Secretary of State John Kerry says the buffer zone idea is "worth looking at very, very closely," and will be discussed during meetings in Turkey Thursday, being led by retired Gen. John Allen, coordinator of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria, the Post reports.

Britain and France have also said they would not rule out the Turkish buffer zone, but French President Francois Holland says he supports the plan.

The airstrikes are having some effects, with Kurdish activists reporting militants have withdrawn from all but a few streets on the Kobani eastern edge. However, the Islamic State is still surrounding Kobani by three sides. Turkey has positioned forces on the city's fourth side, at the Turkish border, to keep the Islamic State from crossing over from Syria.

"Airstrikes are not going to save the town of Kobani. We know that," Kirby said. "We all should be steeling ourselves for that eventuality."

The airstrikes were ordered to destroy the Islamic State infrastructure, not to save Syria, and "there are going to continue to be villages and towns and cities that they take."

Further, the Pentagon says the airstrikes that have been going on since Monday on positions around Kobani have interrupted the rest of its campaign against the Islamic State.

The Kurds have also said they don't want Turkey to intervene, but they do want the country to allow weapons and food to come across its border to those defending Kobani, The Post reports.

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Tensions are rising between the Obama administration and the government of Turkey who is responsible for keeping the Syrian border town of Kobani from being overtaken by fighters for the Islamic State (ISIS).
Kobani, Turkey, ISIS
Thursday, 09 October 2014 02:40 PM
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