Turkey will allow Kurdish peshmerga fighters to cross its border into Syria to fight ISIS’s attack on the city of Kobani, the country’s foreign minister announced today. It’s a change of course on an issue that had led to rioting and deaths in Turkey, whose Kurdish population has long been at odds with the central government. From the New York Times:
At a news conference in Ankara, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said that his government was “helping the pesh merga cross over to Kobani,” an apparent shift from Turkey’s previous refusal to allow any military assistance to Kurdish fighters in the town.
The announcement, along with an American decision to use military aircraft to drop ammunition and small arms to resupply Kurdish fighters to Kobani, reflected escalating international pressure to push back Islamic State militants who have been attacking the Kurdish town for more than a month.
The United States had pushed Turkey to allow Kurds into Kobani, but until today’s announcement the country had said it wouldn’t join the international anti-ISIS coalition unless action was also taken against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. But no coalition attacks against Assad have been reported, and it’s not clear what other inducements might have been offered to Turkey to persuade the country’s leaders to change course.