Peshmerga will enter Kobani 'at any moment': Turkish FM
Mevlut Cavusoglu uses TV interview to say 150 peshmerga will enter Kobani as Iraqi Kurds send convoy of heavy weapons to the fighting

Turkey’s foreign minister has said 150 Iraqi peshmerga fighters will enter Kobani "at any moment."

Mevlut Cavusoglu made the claim during a live televised interview on Tuesday. The minister said the logistical details of the Kurdish fighters entering the Syrian border town -- how and from where -- would be dealt with by "related military officials."

The Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq is set to send its peshmerga forces to fight alongside other Kurdish groups against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant extremists who are besieging the town.

On Tuesday a truck convoy carrying heavy weapons left Erbil for Kobani, according to Iraqi Kurdish officials.

Peshmerga forces, the KRG’s militia in Iraq, will fly from Erbil to Turkey then cross the border to enter the besieged Syrian town to fight ISIL militants, according to officials from the KRG’s Ministry for Peshemerga Affairs.

"All preparations are complete and the peshmerga will leave as soon as possible to help defend Kobani," said Halgurt Hikmet, a spokesman for the KRG on Tuesday.

The Turkish authorities had previously said they would provide access to Kobani through Turkey. However, Cavusoglu did not mention how and from where this access would be granted.

"There are no political setbacks to the issue," said Cavusoglu. "Turkey has already mentioned several times about helping either peshmerga or the Free Syrian Army fight against ISIL."

Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, has witnessed fierce clashes between ISIL militants and armed Kurdish groups since mid-September, as well as airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition since early August.

Cavusoglu pointed to what he termed "disagreements" between the Kurdish People's Protection Units, the armed wing of the Syrian Democratic Union Party – or PYD – and the Free Syrian Army.

"The Free Syrian Army has not yet entered Kobani because of disagreements with the PYD," Cavusoglu claimed.

"Talks between the PYD and the FSA on the issue are ongoing and 100 FSA fighters ‘may’ enter the besieged city,” he added.

The minister said that the PYD's goal is to control a particular region in Syria, calling this a "divisive act."

"The PYD is not concerned about protecting Syria's territorial integrity or supporting a new political formation that would embrace all Syrian people once [Bashar al-]Assad goes," Cavusoglu said.

The Turkish foreign minister said that the entry of peshmerga and FSA fighters into Kobani could be an opportunity for all these different groups to begin moving in the same direction, as well as increasing mutual trust.

"Unless the PYD puts an end to its terrorist activities and lets go of its divisive agenda, it cannot be considered legitimate by Turkey nor it can co-operate with the FSA," he said.

Turkey considers both the Democratic Union Party and the PYD to be an offshoot of the illegal Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

The PKK has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey and is listed by the U.S. and the European Union as a terrorist organization.

Cavusoglu ruled out a possible meeting between PYD leaders and the Ankara administration, saying that they could only meet with relevant security and intelligence officers during this process.

He also said that relevant measures would be taken to ensure that no PKK members infiltrate peshmerga or FSA groups as they enter Kobani through Turkey.
 

"We need a clear and comprehensive strategy"

Cavusoglu said that the most important issue was the lack as yet of a "clear and comprehensive strategy" to deal with the situation in Iraq and Syria.

"Once we agree [with our allies] on a well-defined strategy, then Turkey would definitely do its part, whether it be opening up its airbases for use by allies or helping in any other way," he said, adding that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Barack Obama have recently agreed to hold frequent meetings over the phone to discuss this issue and decide what needs to be done in the upcoming period.

The minister said Turkey and the U.S. are already in agreement over the main principles and just need to work out the details, including that of a no-fly zone in Syria.

Turkey has been pushing the international community, including the U.N., to establish a no-fly zone and a safe haven for refugees inside Syria near the Turkish border.

Thousands of civilians from Kobani have fled into Turkey since mid-September as their homes came under attack from ISIL militants.

Cavusoglu said that the U.S. administration is warming up to the idea of a no-fly zone and that talks would continue.

The minister ruled out a unilateral move by Turkey in this regard though, stressing that the country’s goal was to reach an agreement with allies and the international community on establishing no-fly and safe zones inside Syria.

"However, we will take all necessary measures in the face of a threat towards our border security. This is both our right and duty," he stressed, and vowed that Turkey would retaliate against any attack on its soil by ISIL militants during the transit of peshmerga and FSA fighters.

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Last Modified: 2014-10-29 10:16:11
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