Billows of smoke swallowed the sky above Kobane in northern Syria on Tuesday as fresh clashes flared between Kurdish fighters and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The U.S. is assisting the Kurdish militias with airstrikes and airdropped supplies.
“Last night U.S. planes dropped some weaponry, some food, ammunition and medicine too, very close to the city of Kobane for the Kurdish militia, and this is the first time they have dropped help for civilians inside Kobane and also the fighters,” said Idriss Naasan, a representative for Kurdish fighters in Kobane.
On Monday, Turkey’s government announced it has also been helping the Kurdish-Iraqi fighters, the peshmerga, by allowing them access to Syria through its border.
“Iraq’s Kurdish regional government announced that they are in cooperation with Turkey and the U.S. regarding aid to Kobane,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. “Actually, we are helping peshmerga forces to enter into Kobane to give support.”
The move could be a sign that attitudes toward the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition are shifting in the Turkish government. Ankara has long viewed the PKK, a Kurdish insurgent group in Turkey, as a terrorist organization.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, more than 20 people were killed, and more than 50 were wounded in three bomb attacks in the city’s Shia-majority neighborhoods.
“When people gathered at the first blast site, another car bomb went off,” said Qassim Hassan, an eyewitness. “And just outside the capital in Anbar province, ISIL fighters control most of the territory — including the largest air base, Ain al-Asad — and the Haditha dam.”
More than 6,000 soldiers from the Iraqi military have been killed since June as government forces try to take back the province. More than 12,000 troops have deserted.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi defended his country’s army, admitting it needs help, though not in the form of foreign boots on the ground.
“Speaking frankly, we depend on our air force. We have an air force, we have army aviation, and we have troops on the ground,” Abadi said. “Additional international effort is helpful because we lack some systems, but we do not depend on this assistance fully. There will be no ground troops in Iraq. This is my decision, and this is the decision of the Iraqi government.”
His remarks reflect President Barack Obama’s view that the effort against ISIL will ebb and flow.
“Our airstrikes continue alongside our partners’. It remains a difficult mission,” Obama said. “As I’ve indicated from the start, this is not going to be something solved overnight. I’m confident that we will continue to make progress in partnership with the Iraqi government. Because ultimately, with our help, they should be able to secure their own country and to find the necessary political accommodations for long-term prosperity.”
More than a month after Obama pledged to degrade and destroy ISIL, is the U.S.-led coalition against it winning?
And if not, why not?
We consulted our panel of experts for the Inside Story: