ANKARA, October 20 (RIA Novosti) – Turkey is keeping its border open for Kurdish armed forces crossing from Iraq into Syria to fight the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday.
“We are assisting the Peshmerga [Kurdish armed forces in the semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdistan] to cross into Kobani and we are in full collaboration with the coalition,” Cavusoglu told reporters.
On Sunday, the White House said that US President Barack Obama and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a telephone conversation agreed to strengthen cooperation against the IS.
The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June, the extremist group expanded its attacks to northern and western Iraq.
On September 16, IS fighters besieged Kobani, one of the largest towns in the Kurdish region of Syria bordering Turkey. The fighting in and around the town claimed the lives of over 550 people and caused some 180,000 residents to flee across the border to Turkey, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
A US-led coalition is currently carrying out airstrikes against IS positions in Syria and Iraq. Obama's anti-IS strategy also includes bolstering a ground force of Kurds, Iraqis and moderate elements of Syria's opposition.