EU urges Turkey to open border to help Kobane

Kurdish people observe smoke rising from the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, following an explosion as seen from a southeastern Turkish village on October 20, 2014.

Kurdish people observe smoke rising from the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, following an explosion as seen from a southeastern Turkish village on October 20, 2014.

European Union foreign ministers called on Turkey Monday to open its border so as to help the Syrian town of Kobane, under attack from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“The situation in Kobane and in other areas under siege and experiencing fierce fighting against IS is a matter of serious concern,” the 28 EU foreign ministers said in a statement after a regular meeting in Luxembourg.

“The EU appreciates efforts by Turkey to shelter refugees from Kobane and calls on Turkey to open its border for any supply for the people of Kobane,” it said.

Earlier, Turkey said it was assisting Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to cross its borders to join Syrian Kurdish forces battling militants to maintain control over the Syrian town of Kobane, Agence France-Presse reported.

“We are assisting Peshmerga forces to cross into Kobane,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara, adding that talks on the issue were ongoing without giving further details.

Syrian Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants near Kobane had received weapons, ammunition and medical supplies in airdrops conducted by U.S. military aircraft early Monday.

The supplies, delivered in several airdrops by U.S. Air Force C-130, were provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq and were “intended to enable continued resistance against ISIL’s attempts to overtake Kobane,” the U.S. military said in a statement.

The 135 U.S. air striked in addition to continues resistance against ISIS on the ground, had slowed the group’s advances into the Kurdish-Syrian town killing hundreds of its fighters.

“However, the security situation in Kobane remains fragile as ISIL continues to threaten the city and Kurdish forces continue to resist,” the statement said, mentioning no new air strikes.

The “resupply” of rebel fighters is the latest escalation in the U.S. effort to help local forces beat back the radical Sunni militant group in Syria after years of trying to avoid getting dragged into the more than three-year Syrian civil war.

The United States began carrying out air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq in August and about a month later started bombing the militant group in neighboring Syria, in part to prevent it from enjoying safe haven on Syrian territory.

A spokesman for Kurdish forces fighting ISIS militants in Kobane later confirmed on his Twitter feed that a “large quantity of ammunition and weapons” had reached the town.

U.S. officials, speaking in a conference call, described the weapons delivered as “small arms” but gave no details.

The United States gave Turkey advance notice of its plans to deliver arms to the Syrian Kurds, a group Turkey views with deep distrust because of its links to Turkish Kurds who have fought a decades-long insurgency in which 40,000 people were killed.

“President Obama spoke to Erdogan yesterday and was able to notify him of our intent to do this and the importance that we put on it,” one senior U.S. official told reporters.

“We understand the longstanding Turkish concern with the range of groups, including Kurdish groups, that they have been engaged in conflict with,” he added. “However, our very strong belief is that both the United States and Turkey face a common enemy in ISIL and that we need to act on an urgent basis.”

Three U.S. C-130 transport aircraft dropped 27 bundles of weapons and medical supplies to the Syrian Kurds, said a second U.S. official, adding the planes left Syrian air space unharmed and that the majority of the bundles had reached their targets.

 
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