Obama and Erdogan promise to intensify ISIS fight in Syria
U.S. President Barack Obama called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and they pledged to step up the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group, the White House said Sunday.
Kurdish fighters have been under ISIS assault for more than a month around Kobane, which has become a key prize as it is being fought under the gaze of the world’s press massed just over the border in Turkey.
U.S.-led warplanes have pounded ISIS positions around Kobane, as Ankara has come under increasing Western pressure to step up assistance for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.
The two presidents discussed “Syria, particularly the situation in Kobane, and steps that could be taken to counter ISIL advances,” in a Saturday night phone call, the White House said, using an alternate acronym for ISIS.
“The two leaders pledged to continue to work closely together to strengthen cooperation against ISIL,” the White House said.
Obama also “expressed appreciation for Turkey hosting over a million refugees, including thousands from Kobane.
The Turkish leader Sunday again rejected calls for his country to arm the main Kurdish party in Syria, describing the group as a terrorist organization, linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a 30-year insurgency for self-rule in southeastern Turkey.
Ankara is reluctant to arm Kurds and intervene militarily against the jihadists, fearing the creation of an effective Kurdish fighting force on its border.
Obama and Erdogan “also discussed the need for continuing close cooperation on efforts to consolidate peace and stability in Afghanistan,” the White House said.
Last month, Afghanistan signed a long-delayed security agreement to allow 12,500 foreign troops, including about 10,000 U.S. soldiers, to stay in the country next year.