Iraqi Kurdish security forces have not yet crossed into Syria via Turkey: Turkish FM
Kurds watch the Syrian town of Kobane from across the border in the village of Mürşitpınar, in the southeastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa, Oct. 19.Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has announced that Iraqi Kurdish security forces, the Peshmerga, have yet to cross into Syria via Turkey to help defend Kobane against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Talks about their route are continuing. We won’t publicize any details until they are finalized,” Çavuşoğlu said during a live interview with private broadcaster NTV on Oct. 21, stressing that the Turkish government would not announce the timing of the crossing as it is “a strategic issue.”
Kurdish fighters in the battleground Syrian town of Kobane near the border with Turkey weathered a renewed onslaught by ISIL militants on Oct. 21, while the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of Syria’s leading Kurdish movement the Democratic Union Party (PYD), await promised reinforcements.
“We didn’t promise anyone a corridor [to transfer military aid to Kobane],” Çavuşoğlu also said, while noting that the Syrian Kurdish border town can be legitimately defended only by the Free Syrian Army or the Peshmerga, the Iraqi Kurdish security forces.
"Now, the Peshmerga wants to help the PYD through our territory. We consider this request to be a legitimate one. We take our steps wisely. We've been distributing humanitarian aid since the beginning and we will continue to do so," Çavuşoğlu told Hürriyet in a separate statement.
Over the weekend, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rejected calls for Turkey to arm the PYD, saying “just like the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK ... it is a terrorist organisation.”
“We’re against sending arms to the PKK and the PYD. The United States has the same position on the issue. If the PYD doesn’t change its policies, it will not be acceptable,” Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu also added during the NTV interview.
He suggested that the PYD also doesn’t want the Peshmerga to cross into northern Syria because the PYD’s aim is to hold power in Kobane.
He reiterated that “talks were continuing” with the U.S. both on the issue of Kobane and also on the planned “train-and-equip program” for moderate Syrian rebels. “Apparently, [Kurdish groups] have come to terms now ... We wouldn’t like Kobane to fall, but we have a principled policy. Only the Free Syrian Army wants a democratic, unified Syria. Most of the other groups are involved in terrorist actions,” he added.
Çavuşoğlu also complained about “media pressure” over Kobane. “They wanted us to conduct a ground operation. They formed public opinion against us,” he said.