Turkey allowing Iraqi Kurds to join fight in Kobani
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Turkey allowing Iraqi Kurds to join fight in Kobani

In major switch, foreign minister says Ankara ‘assisting peshmerga forces to cross’ into Syria

Kurdish people watch smoke billowing from Kobani as they gather upon a hill overlooking the Syrian town of Kobani, also known as Ain al-Arab, in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province, on October 15, 2014.  (photo credit: AFP/ ARIS MESSINIS)
Kurdish people watch smoke billowing from Kobani as they gather upon a hill overlooking the Syrian town of Kobani, also known as Ain al-Arab, in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province, on October 15, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/ ARIS MESSINIS)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey on Monday said it was assisting Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters to cross its borders to join Syrian Kurdish forces battling jihadists for the Syrian town of Kobani.

“We are assisting peshmerga forces to cross into Kobani,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara, adding that talks on the issue were ongoing but without giving further details.

“We have no wish at all to see Kobani fall” to the jihadists, he added.

The announcement represented a major switch by Turkey, which until now has refused to allow Kurdish fighters to cross its border to join the fight for Kobani just a few kilometers to the south.

The Turkish security forces have waged a 30-year conflict with the Kurdish fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whose battle for self rule has left 40,000 dead.

However, Turkey in the last years has built up strong relations with the Kurdish authorities in the Kurdistan region of Iraq who control the peshmerga forces.

It appears that despite the agreement over the peshmerga, Turkey will still block any PKK fighters from entering Syria.

Turkey has come under increasing pressure over the last month to step up its support for the international coalition fighting the Islamic State jihadists.

But Ankara has so far refused to use its own troops or even let US forces launch their bombing raids on IS from the Incirlik air base in the nearby Adana province.

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