SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Thousands of people “will most likely be massacred” if Kobani falls to Islamic State fighters, a UN envoy said yesterday, as militants fought deeper into the besieged Syrian Kurdish town in full view of Turkish tanks that have done nothing to intervene.
UN peace envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said Kobani could suffer the same fate as the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, where 8,000 Muslims were killed by Serbs in 1995, Europe’s worst atrocity since the second World War, while UN peacekeepers failed to protect them.
“If this falls, the 700, plus perhaps the 12,000 people, apart from the fighters, will be most likely massacred,” Mr de Mistura said. The United Nations believes 700 mainly elderly civilians are trapped in the town itself and 12,000 have left the centre but not made it across the border into Turkey.
“Do you remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot and probably we never forgave ourselves,” he said. “When there is an imminent threat to civilians, we cannot, we should not, be silent.”
Violence in Turkey
The plight of mainly Kurdish Kobani has unleashed the worst street violence in years in Turkey, which has 15 million Kurds. Turkish Kurds have risen up since Tuesday against President Tayyip Erdogan and the government, which they accuse of allowing their kin to be slaughtered.
At least 31 people have been killed in three days of riots across the mainly Kurdish southeast, including two police officers shot dead in an apparent attempt to assassinate a police chief.
Intense fighting between Islamic State fighters and outgunned Kurdish forces in the streets of Kobani could be heard from across the border. Warplanes roared overhead and the western edge of town was hit by an air strike, apparently by US-led coalition jets.
But even as Washington has increased its bombing of Islamic State targets in the area, it has acknowledged that air support is unlikely to be enough to save the city.
“Our focus in Syria is in degrading the capacity of (Islamic State) at its core to project power, to command itself, to sustain itself, to resource itself,” US deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said. “The tragic reality is that in the course of doing that there are going to be places like Kobani where we may or may not be able to be effective.”
Mr Blinken said Islamic State controlled about 40 percent of Kobani. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, gave a similar estimate and said fighters had seized a central administrative area, known as the “security quarter”.
Ocalan Iso, deputy head of the Kurdish forces defending the town, said Islamic State fighters were still shelling the centre, which proved it had not yet fallen. “There are fierce clashes and they are bombing the centre of Kobani from afar,” he said, estimating the militants controlled 20 percent of the town. He called for more US-led air strikes.
The Middle East has been transformed in recent months by Islamic State, a Sunni militant group that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq, crucifying and beheading prisoners and ordering non-Muslims and Shias to convert or die.
The United States has been building a military coalition to fight the group, which requires intervening in Iraq and Syria, countries with complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every state in the region has allies and enemies.