Advancing Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) fighters seized control of a third of the Syrian border town of Kobani Thursday, as Turkey rejected sending in troops on its own against the jihadists.
Despite intensified US-led air strikes, the militants captured more ground in overnight fighting that killed dozens, as calls grew for ground action to support Kobani’s beleaguered Kurdish defenders.
But after talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara could not be expected to act alone.
“It’s not realistic to expect that Turkey will lead a ground operation on its own,” he said.
Ankara has come under pressure over its inaction as the jihadists advance on its doorstep, with protests in Kurdish areas in Turkey sparking clashes that claimed at least 22 lives and forced authorities to impose a curfew in six provinces.
Kobani, where Kurdish militia have been holding out against a three-week siege by the jihadists, has become a crucial battleground in the fight.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the advance of ISIS on Kobani is a tragedy but will not deter the US and its allies from their long-term strategy in the region.