Ankara to allow Iraqi Kurds to cross to fight Islamic state
Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) - In a policy reversal, Turkey will allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross the Syrian border to fight Islamic State (IS) militants in Kobane.
The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that talks on the subject were continuing.
Tens of thousands of people have fled months of fighting in Kobane between IS forces and Syrian Kurdish defenders.
Until recently, faced with a long insurgency by its own Kurds, Turkey had barred access for Kurdish fighters to Syria.
The government in Ankara fought a decades-long conflict with Turkey's Kurdish nationalist party, the PKK, which it brands as a terrorist organisation that must be defeated.
The PKK campaigns for greater autonomy in Turkey and has links with the Syrian Kurds defending Kobane.
However, IS's progress has led to an important change in direction. In fact, "Turkey has no wish see Kobane fall," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
The decision follows strong pressure on the Turkish government from Turkish Kurds and the international community.
The United States is also standing with Kobane's defenders. The US military carried out airdrops of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to the Kurdish fighters around Kobane.
Justifying the airdrops in the face of Turkish misgivings, US Secretary of State John Kerry said it would be "morally difficult" not to support the "valiant Kurds".
"Let me say very respectfully to our allies the Turks that we understand fully the fundamentals of their opposition and ours to any kind of terrorist group and particularly obviously the challenges they face with respect [to] the PKK," Kerry said.
"But we have undertaken a coalition effort to degrade and destroy ISIL, and ISIL is presenting itself in major numbers in this place called Kobane,'' he added.
ISIL is Washington's preferred name for Islamic State.