People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtaş has called on the Turkish government to support Kurds in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as he crossed the border to visit Kobane on Sept. 30.
Demirtaş called for strong action against ISIL from the Turkish government, saying this would help the peace process at home with outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants.
“Concrete, practical steps are needed. Then the perception of people will change. Turkey has to take measures to prevent ISIL members from crossing over the border. Turkey should not prevent aid heading to Kobane,” he said.
“If everyone joins forces, no one can defeat a people who are championing a legitimate cause,” said Demirtaş, who will hold talks with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutolğu on Oct. 1.
“Everyone should know that if ISIL enters Kobane, we will never accept their victory,” he added.
Demirtaş also met Enver Muslim, a senior Syrian Kurd leader in the town.
Kobane, just a few kilometers south of the Turkish border, has been besieged by ISIL militants for the last days, provoking an exodus of around 160,000 refugees into Turkey, according to official figures.
“We crossed into Kobane and held a meeting with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-chair,” Demirtaş said, referring to the main party in Rojava.
“There were ISIL terrorists just two kilometers away. Kobane has been besieged by ISIL militants from all sides,” he said after returning to Suruç on the Turkish side of the border, in comments broadcast on national television.
Demirtaş did not indicate how close to the center of the town he had been.
Turkey, after months of caution in the fight against ISIL, has decided to harden its policy and this week Parliament is set to authorize military action against the militants. However, what this may entail is so far unclear, and Kurds in Rojava worry the moves could include attempts to deny them the freedom to chart their own course.
Around 50 tanks Turkish have been deployed to the Mürşitpınar border crossing with Kobane, together with weapons including artillery, an AFP correspondent said.
Many refugees have arrived by car and Turkish authorities began digging deep trenches yesterday to prevent them from driving into Turkey, according to reports.