Turkey, France say ISIL war is not limited to Kobane
French President Francois Hollande greets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan before their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Oct. 31. REUTERS PhoyoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took aim at Western leaders in Paris on Oct. 31 for focusing “too much” on the battle over the Syrian border town of Kobane, drawing nods from his host, President François Hollande, who highlighted Aleppo.
“Why are coalition forces continually bombing this town of Kobane?” Erdoğan asked while speaking to reporters after a meeting with his French counterpart.
“I have to highlight one particular issue, Kobane. Why [do we focus on] Kobane but not Idlib, Hama, Homs or Iraq, 40 percent of which is under occupation? Why is no action being taken or no operations being conducted for these places but Kobane?” he asked, adding that Turkey had already welcomed 200,000 people from the border city.
“Since there are no civilians in Kobane, where there are only 2,000 fighters, why is that place constantly being bombed? It is impossible to understand,” he said.
The battle over the border town, which is strategic for both the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants and Kurdish militia, has been continuing for more than a month.
Hollande agreed that Kobane was not the be-all-and-end-all of the mission, telling reporters that the “key town” in the struggle is Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city.
Nevertheless, “even if Kobane has been emptied of its population, it is necessary to provide it with the reinforcements necessary and in this regard, we have faith in Turkey,” said Hollande.
Commenting on violence in Syria, Erdoğan said the world should carefully differentiate between conventional and chemical weapon use, defining Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s acts as “state terror.”
The president reiterated that the anti-ISIL fight should also target the Syrian government.
He also criticized the fact that ISIL fighters have captured former U.S. guns and were now using them to hold around 40 percent of Iraq.
Turkey has allowed heavily armed Iraqi peshmerga forces and opposition rebels to cross its border to battle ISIL fighters in Kobane, sparking condemnation from Syria, which called it a “flagrant violation of Syrian sovereignty.”
A U.S.-led coalition carrying out air raids against ISIL has recently intensified attacks near Kobane, and the Pentagon said its warplanes made 10 strikes in the area on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30.
Erdoğan also asked for Hollande’s support for Turkey’s ailing bid to become an EU member.