Kobani defenders claim advances against ISIS

A joint force of Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga and Free Syrian Army (FSA) units have launched a new offensive at the besieged border town of Kobani, driving back ISIS fighters from villages west of the city. The ISIS positions also continue to be targetted by US-led coalition warplanes, with the last air-strike reported Nov. 3. Peshmerga Commander Ahmed Gardi told BasNews: "Coalition airstrikes shelled the militants in the southern part of Kobani in order to prevent them from taking control of the strategic Murshid Penari gate." The joint force, now consisting of some 2,000 fighters, is now said to be fighting in the villages of al-Badour, Manaze, Arbosh and Chigor. Grad missiles brought by the Peshmerga force have also helped turn the tide. However, the Kurdish-led force is still outnumbered two-to-one by the ISIS fighters besieging Kobani, who have tanks and heavy artillery. And even as ISIS is driven back at outlying villages, fighting still continues within the urban area of Kobani. (Rudaw, Bas NewsKurdish Question)

Peshmerga come to aid of Kobani: strings attached?

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga troops have entered the battle for the ISIS-besieged Kurdish town of Kobani in northern Syria, after having been allowed to pass through Turkish territory to approach the town from the north—the only remaining access. The sound of heavy weaponry the Peshmerga fighters brought with them from Iraq echoed across the Syrian-Turkish border, according to a team from the independent Kurdish news agency Rudaw on the Turkish side. And US-led coalition planes coninued to strike ISIS positions outside Kobani in the most intense bombing in weeks, with local witnesses counting between five and seven air-strikes overnight. Peshmerga forces are now fighting alongside the PKK-aligned People's Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish militia that has been leading the defense of Kobani.

Global mobilization for Kobani

Via Facebook, Oct. 31:

Global Rally Against ISIS — For Kobanê — For Humanity
ISIS [has] launched a major multi-front military campaign against the Kurdish region of Kobanê in northern Syria. This is the third ISIS onslaught on Kobanê since March 2014. As the ISIS was unsuccessful on the two previous occasions, they are attacking with larger forces and want to take Kobanê.

Kurds as pawns in Turko-Russian game?

Bashar Assad can only be taking perverse joy at Turkey's attempt to play an Arab-versus-Kurdish divide-and-rule card, seeking to isolate the Kurds from the Arab-led Syrian opposition. There was an advance for this stratagem today, as a Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander said it was wrong to send rebel forces to the ISIS-besieged Kurdish town of Kobani when Aleppo was besieged by Assad regime forces. Nizar al-Khatib told a group of journalists at a press conference in Istanbul: "I am criticizing this decision because we need these forces in the other fronts in Aleppo. The situation is very critical in Aleppo right now, regime forces have been surrounding the city for some time." (Hurriyet Daily News)

Turkey plays FSA off against Kurds

In its ever more blatant attempt to play an Arab-versus-Kurdish divide-and-rule card, Turkey now says it wants the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to control the ISIS-besieged border town of Kobani if the jihadists are defeated—not the Kurdish forces of the People's Protection Units (YPG) that have actually been leading the defense of Kobani. In an interview with the BBC broadcast Oct. 28, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called for an "integrated strategy" with the United States to equip and train the FSA and oust Assad from power, as a condition of Turkey openinig its military bases and otherwise cooperating in the effort against ISIS. He said the US should commit to a plan for "a new pluralistic and democratic Syria." This stance has won Turkey recent support from the Syrian opposition, which justly fears being sold out to Assad by the US once ISIS is defeated. But Davutoglu made clear that Turkey would not accept the PKK-aligned YPG in power on its southern border: "If ISIS leaves the PKK terrorists should not come," he said. (AFP, Oct. 28) He did not make clear how the YPG is to be usurped from the territory by the FSA without exploding the nascent alliance between the two, or even fomenting war between them—which is pretty clearly the Turkish design.

Will Kobani intervention spur split in NATO?

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces are set to arrive in Kobani, the ISIS-besieged town in northern Syria—allowed to pass through Turkish territory by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But Erdogan is continuing to bar Kurdish PKK fighters from passing across the border to come to Kobani's defense—and is even taking harsh measures against Kurdish observers who have gathered at the border to witness the ongoing battle. On Oct. 26, Turkish forces used tear-gas to drive journalists and observers from two hills overlooking the border. The observers were removed to a third hill a kilometer north with a limited view of Kobani. The military cited concerns for the viewers' safety. (Rudaw, Oct. 26) Erdogan, demonstrating the grudging nature of the opening of his territory to the Peshmerga, said that Kobani's defenders do "not want" their help. Referring to the PKK-aligned Democratic Union Party (PYD), whose People's Protection Units (YPG) have been fighting to defend Kobani for more than a month, Erdogan said: "The PYD does not want the Peshmerga to come. The PYD thinks its game will be ruined with the arrival of the Peshmerga—their set-up will be spoilt." He also added that the PYD is a "terrorist group" because of its links to the PKK. (Rudaw, Oct. 26)

Assad plays Kurdish card to divide opposition

Lebanon's NaharNet, citing Syria's official SANA news agency, reports the absolutely maddening claim from Bashar Assad's Information Minister Omran Zohbi that the regime's armed forces have been providing support to the Kurdish fighters defending ISIS-besieged Kobani. "The state with its military forces and planes has been providing military and logistical support, and has supplied ammunition and arms to the town," he said. While not actually claiming the regime is coordinating with the US air-drops of aid to the Kurdish militia, he said Damascus "will continue to give military aid to Kobane at the highest level. From the outset of the battle, the state has not hesitated to play its military, political, social and humanitarian role" because the town is "Syrian territory and its residents are Syrians."

US arms Kobani defenders —heightening contradictions

The US has started to air-drop weapons and medical supplies to Kurdish militia defending the north Syrian town of Kobani against ISIS forces—the first such drops to resistance fighters in Syria. In a statement Oct. 19, US Central Command said C-130 cargo planes made multiple drops of arms and supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq. (AP) And in an astonishing development that reveals the degree of pressure on Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan agreed to allow Kurdish fighters to cross into Syria. (AP, BBC News) A critical distinction, however, is that Ankara is only allowing Iraqi Peshmerga troops to pass through Turkish territory to reach Kobani from the north. The accounts say nothing about allowing PKK fighters to pass. And Erdogan is even now continuing to oppose US arming of the People's Protection Units (YPG), the PKK-aligned militia that is defending Kobani. (Chinatopix)

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