Kurds Riot In Turkey As ISIS Prepares To Take Kobani
Vice President Biden’s apologies notwithstanding, the Turkish government is facing civil unrest from its Kurdish population for its perceived alliance with ISIS as the militant group is set to take over the Northern Syrian city of Kobani. Kobani sits on the border between Syria and Turkey and is home to a large Kurdish population that will likely face reprisals when ISIS takes control.
The Turkish military has allowed ISIS to advance on the city unmolested and instead focused on keeping control of Kurds within Turkey who are furious at the government’s perceived support for ISIS and inaction in stopping ISIS from taking over cities with Kurdish populations like Kobani. Taking Kobani will give ISIS a large piece of Northern Syria allow the militant group a more coherent foothold throughout Syria and Iraq.
ISIS fighters planted their flag on a hill on the eastern side of Kobani, then punched through defenses to open up the route for more troops, one witness inside the city told CNN. CNN crews on Monday also spotted what appeared to be the black flag of ISIS flying from a hilltop on the eastern side of the city. The flag was farther east into the city from one shown flying atop a building in video from Reuters and also seen by the CNN crews.
The fall of the city would carry huge symbolic and strategic weight, giving ISIS sway over an uninterrupted swatch of land between the Turkish border and its self-declared capital in Raqqa, Syria, 100 kilometers (62 miles) away. The Turkish military, which has bulked up its defenses along the border in recent days as the fighting has flared, blocked people fleeing the embattled city from crossing the border.
Turkey’s denial of sanctuary for Kurdish fighters and civilians fleeing Kobani triggered riots on the border and clashes between Turkish Kurds and security forces. By denying the people entry Turkey has condemned many of them to death.
ISIS has been successfully advancing on Kobani despite US airstrikes seemingly proving the critique made before the air campaign started that air power alone would not stop ISIS. The fall of Kobani would crystallize that failure and provide ISIS a symbolic victory over the new US-led coalition.