Ankara: Kobane Result of Major Crisis in Syria

Ankara: Kobane Result of Major Crisis in SyriaAnkara: Kobane Result of Major Crisis in Syria

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has rejected claims that it is not doing enough to help Syrian fighters defeat the IS group in Kobane.

He told the BBC it would only take part in operations if the US-led coalition’s strategy included military action against Syrian government forces.

Turkey would meanwhile “accelerate” the training and equipping of Syrian militants to fight in Kobane, Davutoglu said.

But he emphasized that negotiations with allies over access to Turkey’s military bases for refueling and air strikes would not succeed until “the parameters are clear”.

“Saving Kobane is very important but we should not forget that Kobane is just a result of a much bigger, much more widespread crisis in Syria,” said Davutoglu, the former foreign minister who has been a key architect of Turkey’s Syria policy and a bitter opponent of President Bashar al-Assad.

  Controversial Reinforcement

Davutoglu lashed out against Turkey’s critics, saying it “did not want to be part of the game for a few weeks or months just to satisfy American or European public opinion”.

Images beamed worldwide of Turkish tanks sitting idly by, within easy reach of Kobane, have provoked questions in western capitals and sparked unprecedented protests in dozens of Turkish cities, mainly by Turkish Kurds.

The prime minister’s comments to the BBC come after Turkey responded to growing pressure by announcing it would allow Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to cross its border to bolster Syrian Kurds who have been struggling to hold the town against better-armed IS forces.

The prime minister rejected accusations from Syrian Kurdish groups that Turkey was siding with IS by providing training and support, and by allowing their fighters to pass through its territory.

Davutoglu said Peshmerga and the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters were ready to go.

Negotiations over their crossing have been marred by tensions with Syrian Kurdish groups inside Kobane.

Turkey’s prime minister reiterated that it would only agree to send in its own troops into Syria once others, including the US and European countries, were ready to put their own boots on the ground - which they have repeatedly made clear they are not prepared to do.

  ‘No-Fly Zone’

Davutoglu claimed that Turkey’s longstanding call for a no-fly zone over northern Syria was gaining ground. He spoke of “a very intensive consultation between intelligence, diplomatic and military representatives”.

The US and other world powers have long rejected this option used in Libya as unworkable, if not undesirable, in Syria.

Davutoglu said some countries, which he did not name, “had many statements that all the options are on the table”.

The influx of some 200,000 refugees from Kobane pushed Turkey’s Syrian refugee population to 2 million, according to Davutoglu.

But the Turkish leader said they would not follow Lebanon which has now shut the door on any more refugees, except for emergency cases.

“We don’t want to just save Kobane,” he emphasized. “We will take all the military risks, security risks, whenever we see an integrated strategy and the light at the end of the tunnel” for all Syrians.

  New IS Video

Meanwhile, the IS militant group released a video Monday showing a British hostage apparently in Kobane, in a bid to disprove that it was losing the battle for the disputed Syrian border town.

The video, the latest in a series featuring 43-year-old kidnapped reporter John Cantlie, shows him in a war-damaged town, talking to the camera and rejecting US claims that the IS was in retreat, AFP reported.

There is no indication in the video of when it was shot, but Cantlie refers to a news report that was broadcast by the BBC on October 17 and to remarks made by a US military spokesman on October 16.

Views of Kobane in the video include shots of a row of grain silos topped by a Turkish flag that correspond to some shown in maps of the area immediately on the other side of the frontier.

Cantlie dismisses reports that IS forces have failed in their assault on the Kurdish town, declaring that they hold the east and south of Kobane and that their victory there is only a matter of time.

In their latest statements on the battle, US officials have said their strikes have “slowed IS advances” but that the situation is fluid.

Cantlie was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012 while covering the civil war there. Four hostages -- two Americans and two Britons -- have been executed by IS militants.

He has appeared in a series of slickly produced propaganda videos apparently designed to influence media coverage of the war and to counter US and British claims.