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Kobane keeps up the resistance

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The Syrian city of Kobane (Arabic Ain al-Arab), with a majority ethnic Kurdish population, has been under siege by militants of the Islamic State ("Daesh") since September 16, 2014. The city is located near the Turkish border and is no longer accessible from Turkey, the hinterland being occupied by Daesh.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s stance towards the Kurdish defenders of Kobane has exposed his support for the IS, leading to the political isolation of his country. Hence, last week, only 60 out of 193 States voted in favor of Turkey’s candidacy to the United Nations Security Council.

Erdoğan claims he wants to prevent the massacre foretold of the Kabane population, but he prevents the Turkish Kurdish fighters of the PKK [1] from coming to their assistance. He mined the border to keep the civilians out. Ultimately, under pressure from Washington, he agreed to allow in 200 000 of the 300 000 refugees fleeing Kobane.

Seeking to justify his position, on 24 October Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called the Syrian PYG [2] a "terrorist" organization like Daesh. The PYG never engaged in terrorist acts, but its senior leaders are former members of the Turkish PKK who fled repression at home and obtained Syrian nationality at the beginning of the war.

Proclaiming his intention to help the population in the face of the Islamic State, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced he had negotiated the arrival of Kurdish reinforcements: 5 000 peshmerga from the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (pro-Israel) and 1 300 other fighters from the Free Syrian Army (pro-French and anti-Syrian Arab Republic). However, to date, only 155 peshmerga are said to be on the way, but not a single one has arrived in Kobane.

The Turkish Air Force did not intervene, but has conducted a major exercise simulating an operation to protect the tomb of Suleyman Shah in Syria. Under a 1921 Franco-Turkish agreement, the tomb basks in a legal fiction of extraterritoriality, and is far away from Kobane.

The US anti-Daesh Coalition parachuted weapons to the PYG but, unintentionally or not, half of them were recovered by Daesh (as was previously the case in Mosul). It also continues to carry out 10-15 bombing sorties per day, without having any influence on the ground-fighting.

For its part, the Syrian Arab Army also continues its air strikes, but in a much more focused and intensive manner (about 150 per day). Although it also announced its intention to deliver arms and ammunition, to date no stock has been seen.

According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (association created by the Muslim Brotherhood and a screen for the British MI6), 815 people have been killed since the siege began, of whom more than half were Daesh affiliates.

[1] Kurdistan Workers’ Party founded in Turkey in 1978.

[2] The Democratic Union Party is a Syrian Kurdish political party established in 2003 by Kurdish activists in northern Syria. It is an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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