ISIS Attacks Kobani: U.S. Airstrikes Halt Militant Advance On Border Town, Turkey Watches Idly

United States airstrikes stopped the ISIS attack on Kobani, a Kurdish enclave on the Syrian border with Turkey, after the Islamic extremist militant forces appeared to have captured the strategically crucial town. But how long the airstrikes, carried out by a coalition of Western and Arab forces but dominated by the U.S., will hold ISIS back remains uncertain.

ISIS militants armed with powerful mortars and tanks, who were turned back after failing to take Kobani — known in Arabic as Ayn al-Arab — in July, resumed their assault on the Kurdish-controlled city about three weeks ago.

“On Tuesday, ISIS flags were seen raised over the eastern section of Kobani on Tuesday and it was feared that the town and finally fallen into the hands of the extremist forces.

“But overnight, the U.S. spearheaded an aerial assault on ISIS fighters near Kobani, striking six ISIS targets, mostly artillery and armored vehicle positions, driving the ISIS fighters back from the city, at least for the time being.”

“Finally, they are hitting the right places,” one fighter involved in defending Kobani told CNN.

The U.S. airstrikes also blasted three more ISIS targets inside Syria and five others in Iraq overnight.

Though Kobani is on the Turkish border, and an ISIS takeover of the town would appear to pose a direct threat to Turkey — as well as lead to what the United Nations envoy to Syria called “a massacre and humanitarian tragedy” inside the town itself — Turkish forces have not moved to aid the besieged Kobani Kurds, even though Turkish tanks sit right across the border, close enough for ISIS fighters to see them.

Last week, Turkey’s parliament gave the go-ahead for Turkish forces to join the fight against ISIS, but so far Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has ordered no action. Erdo?an also wants the U.S. to strike the Syria government forces of President Bashar al-Assad, and has said that Turkey will not join the coalition against ISIS unless Assad is a target as well.

Historically, the Turks and Kurds have been at each other’s throats, leading to speculation that Erdo?an may be happy to sit back and watch as ISIS takes care of his Kurdish problem for him.

But Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister has vehemently denied that his country is content to see Kobani fall into ISIS hands.

“It’s great unfairness to claim that Turkey is doing nothing,” said Yalç?n Akdo?an on Tuesday, quoted in the government-controlled Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah. “Turkey will not be content with the fall of Kobani into the hands of terrorist organizations, any attempts of violence and harm threatening the peace of our people will not be taken lightly.”

At the same time, Turkish government forces reportedly killed 19 Kurdish protesters on Monday and Tuesday, and street demonstrations broke out in Kurdish regions of Turkey, protesting Erdo?an’s do-nothing approach to the ISIS attack on Kobani.

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