Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Turkey and Kurdish forces are again at loggerheads after Islamic State (IS) forces launched an attack yesterday against Kobane, a city near the Syrian-Turkish border.
The city, which is near the border with Turkey, became a symbol of resistance after the Kurdish People's Protection Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel or YPG) snatched control of the city from Jihadis in a fierce battle last January,
Yesterday, Islamist militants carried out three car bomb attacks on the Turkish border crossing just north of Kobane and battled Kurdish fighters in the city, killing and wounding several people.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has contacts on the ground, said that the fighting killed at least 57 people, including 35 civilians and Kurdish fighters and 22 IS militants.
Jihadi fighters used human shields during the drawn-out battle.
Quickly, claims circulating on the Internet suggested that several cars loaded with explosives and IS militants passed through the Mursitpinar border crossing in Turkey to make their way into Kobane.
From there, they attacked a village south of the town, and executed 23 Syrian Kurds, among them women and children.
On social media, Kurdish activists accused Turkey of assisting the IS group, with the hashtag #TerroristTurkey becoming a trending topic on Twitter.
Arin Shekhmos, a Syrian Kurdish activist, said that IS entered Syria from Turkey through the Mursitpinar border crossing, slamming Turkey for letting them through.
He also claimed that IS fighters were wearing Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) uniforms as a disguise when they entered.
Turkey reacted angrily to the accusations. "The claim that Daesh militants passed through the Turkish border is entirely a lie and part of a black propaganda," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in a message on Twitter.
The Governor's Office in the border region of Sanliurfa claimed that its information "proves" IS members infiltrated Kobane from Jarablus in Syria, and not across the Turkish border.
Mutual accusations come amid growing tensions between Syrian Kurds and Turkey.
Ankara Turkey insists that Syrian Kurdish forces who recently made gains in Syria against IS are linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which for decades has waged a deadly insurgency inside Turkey.
Many Western governments have repeatedly criticised Turkey for failing to stop the flow of Jihadis in and out of Syria along the 900-kilometre border it shares with that country.
Turkey’s opposition pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), which made a major breakthrough in last month’s parliamentary elections, accused the authorities of long allowing IS fighters back and forth across the border.
However, “Events overnight in Kobane and Hassakeh have displayed classic ISIL strategy, whereby unexpected, spectacular attacks have been launched as diversionary operations aimed at distracting the Kurds from their role approaching Raqqa,” said analyst Charles Lister of the Brookings Doha Center.
As a result of recent fighting, Peshmerga forces are less than 60 kilometres from the capital of the so-called Caliphate.