Just a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced as terrorists the Kurdish peshmerga fighters battling the Islamic State group in the Syrian border town of Kobani, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that his government was in talks to assist Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross the Syrian border, according to media reports.
“We have no wish at all to see Kobani fall,” Cavusoglu reportedly said at a press conference in Ankara, without providing further details of the ongoing talks.
He, however, added that the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, whose fighters are battling ISIS in Kobani, will not get Turkey’s support “so long as it continues to pursue its goal of controlling parts of Syria,” according to Anadolu, the official news agency of Turkey.
The announcement from Turkey, which has so far refused to allow Kurdish fighters to cross into Syria, marks a major policy shift. Turkey views the PYD as an offshoot of PKK, a Kurdish group designated as a terrorist organization in the country.
As a result, despite increasing pressure from the United States and its allies, as well as its own Kurdish population, to ramp up its efforts against the Islamic State group in Syria, Turkey has been reluctant to get militarily involved in the fight.
Cavusoglu’s statements came just hours after the U.S. military said that it had conducted airdrops of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies for Kurdish fighters in Kobani to “enable continued resistance against ISIL’s attempts to overtake Kobani.”
Cavusoglu, while stating that the Turkish government was aware of the airdrops near Kobani, reportedly refused to comment on the topic. Erdogan had, on Sunday, expressed his opposition to supplying arms to Kurdish fighters in the region.