Newsweek reports: As the black flag of the Islamic State (ISIS) rose above the Syrian town of Kobane on Monday, the soldiers of NATO’s second largest army stood and watched only a few hundred metres away.
As gunfire and explosions echoed across the border, fears were voiced about the potentially devastating long-term price Turkey may pay for remaining ambivalent to the plight of the Kobane’s Kurdish defenders.
“We will do everything possible to help the people of Kobane because they are our brothers and sisters,” Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told CNN as the town was close to falling on Monday.
However, they would only do so, he added, if there was a broader military commitment by Turkey’s allies to create a no-fly-zone in northern Syria, a move the United States has so far refused to back.
The Telegraph reports: The Turkish leader [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] is strongly mistrusted by the Kurds of Turkey and Syria. Many accuse his government – anxious about Turkey’s own Kurdish separatist movement – of conniving with Isil and of failing to act to prevent it committing atrocities against the Kurds in northern Syria.
At least three dozen Turkish tanks parked in a circle on a hill overlooking Kobane – apparently ready for action but still not deployed – further fuelled Kurdish suspicions, which on Tuesday boiled over into angry protests in Istanbul and other cities and left one man dead.
Yet Mr Erdogan’s view on air strikes struck a chord.
In Kobane itself, the local knowledge of Kurdish guerrillas in the YPG [People’s Defence Units] militia was likely to be more effective in combating the invading jihadists than air strikes, according to Ahmed Shekho, 24, head of the Syrian Kurdish students union, who fled at the weekend as the Isil attacks became fiercer.
“Now that Isil are in the eastern side of the town, a street war has started. It’s like gang warfare,” he said. “The YPG fighters know every street. Most of them are sons of Kobane and they are famous for their street fighting.
“Isil are better armed but when it comes to street fighting, maybe the situation could be different. The fighting has been intense and 350 jihadist fighters have been killed on the eastern side of Kobane.”
On the air strikes, Mr Shekho – who, like thousands of other Syrian Kurds, has sought refuge in the Turkish border town of Sururc – shared Mr Erdogan’s scepticism.
“For the Kurds, the American air strikes were the only hope, but they seem to have been more effective in Iraq,” he said. “There’s a valley to the south-west of Kobane that had 2,000 Isil vehicles in it for 11 days, yet the Americans have never targeted them. It’s as if they only want to scare them or do a little damage. I was in the south-west of Kobane and I saw an American air strike hitting a water pump belonging to a local farmer.” [Continue reading…]