US holds direct talks with embattled Syrian Kurds
WASHINGTON - Reuters
Kurdish people wach from atop a hill near the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern village of Mürşitpınar, Şanlıurfa province, the fighting in Kobane on October 12, 2014. AFP PhotoA U.S. State Department official held direct talks for the first time last weekend with a Syrian Kurdish group involved in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, including the besieged town of Kobane, the State Department said on Oct. 16.
Following the talks, the last three days saw an upsurge in U.S. air strikes on ISIL forces besieging the town, and Kurdish spokesmen said their forces were giving coordinates of the militants' positions to the United States.
"We have for some time had conversations through intermediaries with the PYD [Democratic Union Party]. We have engaged over the course of just last weekend with the PYD," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Washington.
A senior administration official said the talks, which involved a State Department official, took place in Paris.
News of the talks raised questions about the position of Turkey, which distrusts the PYD, the main Kurdish political organization in Syria, because of its affiliation with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The United States has been trying to persuade Ankara to take a greater role in the campaign against ISIL, which has taken control of large areas of northern Iraq and Syria, including territory along Turkey's southern border.
U.S. and Turkish military officials held talks this week in Ankara to discuss details of what Turkey will do, and a Pentagon spokesman on Oct. 16 said they had gone "very, very well."
"The discussions were positive, we think ... our team's coming away with, I think, a general good report here, but I wouldn't get ahead of anything Turkey may or may not do," Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.