Syrian town Kobani about to fall as Islamic State advances, says Turkey president
MURSITPINAR: Turkey president on Tuesday said the
Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani was “about to fall” as Islamic State fighters
pressed home a three-week assault that has cost a reported 400 lives and forced
thousands to flee their homes.
The prospect that the town could be captured by
Islamic State, who are now within city limits, has increased pressure on Turkey
to join an international coalition to fight against the jihadists.
Islamic State wants to take Kobani in order to
strengthen its grip on the border area and consolidate the territorial gains it
has made in Iraq and Syria in recent months. U.S.-led air strikes have so far
failed to prevent its advance on Kobani.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said bombing was not
enough to defeat Islamic State and he set out Turkey's demands for additional
measures before it could intervene.
“The problem of ISIS (Islamic State) ... cannot be
solved via air bombardment. Right now ... Kobani is about to fall,” he said
during a visit to a camp for Syrian refugees. “We had warned the West. We
wanted three things. No-fly zone, a secure zone parallel to that, and the
training of moderate Syrian rebels,” he said.
He said Turkey would take action if there were threats
to Turkish soldiers guarding a historic site in Syria that Ankara regards as
its territory. But so far Turkey has made no move to get involved in the
fighting across the border.
Further pressure came from France, which said it was vital
to stop Islamic State's advance on Kobani, and was discussing with Turkey what
could be done.
“A lot is at stake in Kobani and everything must be
done so that the Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists are stopped and pushed back,”
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told parliament. But some analysts doubt the
will exists among Western allies to take further action.
“It’s the coalition of the unwilling, each country is
doing the bare minimum, particularly in Syria,” said Fadi Hakura at the London
based think-tank, Chatham House. From across the Turkish border, two Islamic
State flags could be seen flying over the eastern side of Kobani.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring
group said it had documented 412 deaths of civilians and fighters during the
three-week battle for Kobani.
The US military said it and allied air forces launched
strikes on Islamic State in Syria on Monday and Tuesday. In the Kobani area the
raids destroyed armed vehicles, a tank and a vehicle carrying anti-aircraft
Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot, has ramped up its
offensive in recent days against the mainly Kurdish border town, despite being
targeted by US-led coalition air strikes aimed at halting its progress.
“There were clashes overnight. Not heavy but ISIS is
going forward from the southwest. They have crossed into Kobani and control
some buildings in the city there,” said Rami Abdulrahman, head of the
Observatory, a group that monitors the conflict with a network on the ground.
ISIS is a former name for Islamic State. (Reuters)