Black Flags on Europe’s Border: IS Advance in Kobane Stalled after Air Strikes

Written by | Friday, October 10th, 2014

U.S.-led forces have continued their air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in the vicinity of the besieged Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobane. Earlier reports said that the militants had controlled almost one-third of Kobane, on the Turkish-Syrian border. IS had been reportedly pushed back towards the edge of the town as a result of the strikes and advances by the town’s defenders. Meanwhile, Turkey has explicitly ruled out a ground operation on its own against IS in Syria, with the country’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, repeating his calls for the creation of a no-fly zone along the Syrian side of the border during his meeting with new NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

As a NATO member, Turkey has also called for a coordinated action against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Ankara has also appealed to the Western governments to support its idea of setting up a buffer zone, whose aim would be to prevent Syrian government aircraft from flying near the Turkish border. Turkey has also consistently expressed its concerns that Mr Assad’s forces would be the main beneficiaries of an IS retreat. However, experts have cautioned that such a zone would necessitate a major military operation including securing of a defendable terrain.

According to the U.S. military sources, the U.S.-led air strikes near Kobane damaged Islamic State’s positions and destroyed vehicles and buildings. “Indications are that Kurdish militia there continue to control most of the city and are holding out” against IS, a U.S. government’s statement said. Meanwhile, besides the long-term desire for Syrian President Assad to be removed and the call for a no-fly zone, there is another important reason for Turkey’s unwillingness to stop the bloodshed in Kurdish border town of Kobane – Turkish government’s deep suspicions and even hatred of its Kurdish enemy. Turkey fears an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria could reignite Kurdish separatism back home.

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