Demirtas visits Kobani, urges Turkey to support Syrian Kurds
After a visit to the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas called on the Turkish government to support Syrian Kurds' fight against the Islamic State (IS) to defend the besieged town near the Turkish border, saying this is a chance to strengthen Turkey's peace process with the Kurds, Zaman daily reported.

IS militants are closing in on Kobani despite US-led coalition airstrikes against IS targets in the area. IS forces pounded the town with mortars and artillery shells and advanced within five kilometers of Kobani, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday.

The push by IS has created some 150,000 Syrian Kurdish refugees, in one of the largest influxes of Syrian refugees to Turkey since the war began three-and-a-half years ago.

Turkey has let the Syrian Kurdish refugees in, but clashes erupted on the Turkish side of the border between troops and Kurds who wanted to cross into Syria to join the defense of Kobani.

Demirtas criticized the Turkish position, saying Turkey should provide water, food and tents to the people who flocked to the border to prevent IS advances, instead of attacking them with tear gas and water cannons.

He said the Turkish government should also get in touch with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian Kurdish group which Ankara sees as the Syrian arm of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and coordinate its efforts with the group against IS.

He also praised the People's Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the PYD that has been fighting IS to “defend the honor of humanity.”

The crisis in Kobani has been posing a major threat to Turkey's efforts to end the PKK's decades-old violent campaign through talks with the party’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

A senior PKK commander has already said the peace process is effectively “over” due to the Turkish stance towards Kobani, though he added that the final decision will be made by Ocalan.

Demirtas said it was time to salvage the peace process through actual deeds, instead of just talks. “If there has been a process for the past two years, today is the day to take the next step to keep it alive,” Demirtas said.

 “Kurds of Rojava are not a threat to Turkey,” said Demirtas, referring to the Syrian Kurdish region. “We are going through very critical hours, even minutes. … Today is the day to join hands. It is not the time to leave the Kurds alone.”

 “Let's carry out a historic defense against IS together,” he said. “It is [still] possible to fix a historic mistake.”

News Code: 8503  |  Date: 2014/10/01  |  Time: 14 : 2

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