Erdoğan announces Turkey will allow FSA to Kobane, PYD says talks continue
TALINN - Reuters
Three ISIL fighters (L) pray as others inspect a hill in the outskirts of Syrian town of Kobane, as seen from the Mürşitpınar crossing in Şanlıurfa. REUTERS Photo / Kai PfaffenbachThe Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main Kurdish group fighting in Syria against jihadists, has agreed to the passage of 1,300 Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters to the Syrian border town of Kobane, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“The PYD said it accepted the passage of 1,300 people from the FSA, and on this topic, right now, our relevant teams are negotiating what the route of their passage should be,” Erdoğan said, during a press conference in the Estonian capital of Tallinn on Oct. 24.
The co-chair of the PYD confirmed the groups are in contact, but asserted that no agreement has been reached yet on the FSA fighters’ passage to the besieged border town.
“We had already established a connection with the FSA, but no such agreement has been reached yet, as Mr. Erdoğan has mentioned,” Salih Muslim told Reuters via phone from Brussels.
Muslim said Oct. 24 that the FSA should open a second front against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) instead of coming to Kobane in support of the Kurdish fighters.
Erdoğan had previously said he proposed to U.S. President Barack Obama that FSA fighters could join the battle against ISIL in Kobane.
In his remarks on Oct. 24, the Turkish president also said he has learned the number of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters allowed to go to Kobane through Turkey has been decreased to 150 from the initially announced 200.
“As I said before, we told Mr. Obama the main group to be cooperated with is the FSA and secondarily the Peshmerga. After a few days, the PYD agreed for 200 Peshmerga to come. According to the information I have recently received, this number has been reduced to 150 now,” Erdoğan said.
The Turkish government views the PYD with deep suspicion because of its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and has previously turned down requests for it to open a land corridor so that Kobane could be resupplied from other Kurdish areas of northern Syria. In response to earlier statements by Erdoğan, Washington has already said the PYD’s legal situation in the United States was different than that of the PKK, which is on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).
Army denies media reports on corridor
The Turkish General Staff, meanwhile, issued a clarification about the Peshmerga forces’ passage through Turkey to Kobane after some local media outlets reported various scenarios about how or when the Iraqi Kurds will travel across Turkey.
Referring to some specific stories, the General Staff denied newspaper reports purporting to reveal these details, labeling them “completely unreal.”
Some of the articles said Peshmerga forces would be airlifted to Kobane through Turkey’s southeastern province of Şanlıurfa or that the forces were to enter Turkey through the Khabur border check point on country’s southeastern border with Iraq.
“These and similar articles involving the movement of Pershmerga forces from Turkey to Kobane were all untrue,” the statement said.