SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Syrian Kurds gathered on the border seeking to cross into Turkey on Friday after Islamic State fighters seized 21 villages and besieged a Kurdish city in northern Syria, a Reuters witness said. The crowd of mostly women and children sat behind a barbed wire barrier along the border opposite the Turkish village of Dikmetas, 20 km from the Syrian Kurdish city of Ayn al-Arab, known as Kobani in Kurdish.
The attack on Kobani prompted a Kurdish militant call to the youth of Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast to join the fight against IS and came days after the U.S. military said the help of Syrian Kurds would be needed against the Islamist militants. The number of Kurds on the border shrank from about 3,000 on Thursday night, but more were arriving on foot from nearby villages, carrying possessions in sacks, witnesses said. Turkish security forces were not allowing them to cross the border.
“The weather was cold overnight so most went back to their villages. They started coming back to the border this morning,” said Halil, a man in his 40s on the Turkish side of the border. Turkish soldiers armed with rifles formed a line to maintain security along the border but allowed locals on the Turkish side to fling across bottles of water and bags of bread.
“People are continuing to come on foot and by vehicle. We expect their numbers to swell to 3,000-4,000,” said village official Huseyin Gundogdu. He said military and humanitarian officials had visited the area and were telling the Syrian Kurds they would be offered aid further along the Syrian side of the border nearer Kobani.
IS terrorists, armed with heavy weaponry including tanks, have seized 21 villages near Kobani in the last 24 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks Syria’s civil war, said on Thursday. Western states have expanded contact with the main Syrian Kurdish party, the PYD, since IS seized wide areas of Iraq in June.
The YPG, the main Kurdish armed group in Syria, says it has 50,000 fighters and should be a natural partner in a coalition the United States is trying to assemble to fight Islamic State. But the Syrian Kurds’ relationship with the West is complicated by their ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group listed as a terrorist organization in many Western states because of the militant campaign it waged for Kurdish rights in Turkey.