U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated on Sunday that saving the Kurdish-Syrian town of Kobani is not a central part of the strategy in U.S attempts to defeat the Islamic State group.
Speaking at a press conference in Cairo, Kerry confirmed that while the situation in Kobani was a “tragedy,” the priority had always been to defeat I.S. in Iraq.
"Kobani does not define the strategy for the coalition in respect to Daesh (Islamic State in Arabic). Kobani is one community and it is a tragedy what is happening there. And we do not diminish that," Kerry said.
"But we have said from day one that it is going to take a period of time to bring the coalition thoroughly to the table to rebuild some of the morale and capacity of the Iraqi army. And to begin the focus of where we ought to be focusing first which is in Iraq. That is the current strategy."
kerry’s statement reiterates comments he made last week, in which he said that ending the three-week-long siege of the town close to the Turkish border was not a “strategic objective,” and rather that the original targets were “command and control centres, the infrastructure.”
Kurdish fighters in Kobani have continued to keep the Islamist militants from taking the town. Although not high on the coalition's agenda, the U.S.-led alliance has launched airstrikes against I.S. in Kobani.
The violent group is also increasing its attacks on Kurds fighting in Iraq, killing dozens with bombs in the north of the country.
Meanwhile, it was announced Sunday that Turkey is to allow the United States to use its military bases "to train moderate Syrian opposition forces" and "engage in activities inside of Iraq and Syria," which is “the new commitment, and one that we very much welcome," according to U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, speaking to U.S. news channel NBC.
This step marks Turkey's first incursion into the war against I.S. The country has been under pressure, both from the international community and from popular protests within its own cities and abroad, to intervene in the crisis in Kobani, in which hundreds of Kurds have been killed, and 200,000 have taken refuge over the Turkish border. The U.N. warns of a “massacre” should the city fall.
Kurdish groups have been demanding that Turkey allows arms and fighters to cross the border into Syria to aid their fight against IS. However, as Reuters reports, analysts say Ankara is wary of helping Syrian Kurdish forces near Kobani as they have strong links with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and have maintained ambiguous relations with Assad, to whom Turkey is implacably opposed.
The imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, has warned that if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan allows the Kurdish city to fall, the nine-year peace agreement between the factions will crumble. "If this massacre attempt achieves its goal it will end the process," said Ocalan in a statement from jail. "I urge everyone in Turkey who does not want the process and the democracy voyage to collapse to take responsibility in Kobani."