Erdogan says 1,300 Free Syria fighters to join Kobane battle

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that 1,300 Free Syrian Army fighters would join Kurds in defending the key Syrian border town of Kobane from an assault by Islamic State jihadists.

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 24, 2014, 21:36 PM IST

Tallinn: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that 1,300 Free Syrian Army fighters would join Kurds in defending the key Syrian border town of Kobane from an assault by Islamic State jihadists.

The Syrian Kurds have "accepted 1,300 people from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and they are holding talks to determine the transit route," Erdogan told reporters in Estonia's capital Tallinn.

"I have just been informed that the number of (Iraqi Kurdish) peshmerga (to be sent to Kobane) was reduced to 150" from a previously agreed 200, he added.

Erdogan said yesterday that 200 Iraqi Kurd peshmerga fighters would travel through Turkey to Kobane to fight jihadists from the Islamic State group.

There are an estimated 2,000 Kurdish fighters battling IS jihadists for control of Kobane.

Ankara views the PYD as the Syrian arm of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) whose three-decade armed campaign for self-rule in Turkey has left 40,000 people dead.

Erdogan yesterday dubbed the PYD a "terrorist organisation".

"As you know, in our talks with (US President Barack) Obama we had agreed that the FSA could be the first choice (for deployment in Kobane) and the second choice could be (Kurdish) peshmergas," Erdogan said Friday in Tallinn.

He has also raised the acute humanitarian crisis gripping Syria and the spillover of refugees into Turkey.

Some 200,000 Kurds have fled from Syria to Turkey to escape the onslaught on Kobane by IS jihadists.

Turkey is separately hosting over 1.5 million Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and rebels seeking his ouster.

"Where was the world when 300,000 people have been killed in Syria thus far?" Erdogan said Thursday in Riga.

"Why are they so keen on Kobane, but not on the whole of Syria? That's a question to ask."

Erdogan was in EU member Estonia today, where he was expected to discuss Turkey's bid to join the 28-member bloc.