Syrian Kurdish leader visits Turkey as ISIS advances on Kobane

Rudaw reports: The leader of Syria’s largest Kurdish group, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), whose fighters are battling an advance by Islamic State militants in the north of the country, has held talks with officials in the Turkish capital, local media reported.

Friday’s visit by Salih Muslim was the first to Turkey in more than a year and could suggest a softening of Ankara’s stance as it comes under increasing pressure to intervene militarily against jihadist militants who have laid siege to the Syrian town of Kobane near the Turkish frontier.

Turkish media reported the PYD leader had not met directly with the Turkish government but had held talks with officials from the country’s intelligence agency.

Since Muslim’s last visit to Turkey in July 2013, tensions between Ankara and the PYD, which has close links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey, have flared.

Turkey views the PYD as an extension of the PKK, which for three decades has fought the Turkish state for more autonomy, and says it is allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who Ankara wants to see overthrown. It is also wary of territorial gains made by Kurdish groups in northern Syria, fearing this could lead to eventual self-rule, emboldening Turkey’s Kurds.

The PYD has accused Turkey of aiding Islamist militants inside Syria, a charge Ankara denies, and of obstructing efforts by Kurdish militias to defend towns along the Turkish border.

In an interview with Reuters last week, Muslim said he had called on Western states to provide weapons to his embattled fighters but that help had not arrived because, “Turkey and other countries are preventing this because they don’t want the Kurds to be able to defend themselves”. [Continue reading…]

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