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Syria Kurds sceptical about rebels reinforcing Kobane

AFP , Friday 24 Oct 2014
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Syria's Kurds reacted coolly Friday to the prospect of hundreds of rebel fighters joining their defence of the border town of Kobane, suggesting they should focus on fighting jihadists elsewhere.

Turkey said on Friday that 1,300 Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters -- who are battling to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- would travel to Kobane, located just across its border.

But two top Syrian Kurdish officials told AFP that it would be better if Syria's rebels opened fronts against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in other parts of the war-torn country.

"If they really want to fight Daesh, they can attack (the jihadists) from Azaz and Ifrin (in northern Syria) eastwards," said Bulat Jan, a spokesman for Syria's main Kurdish fighting force, the Kurdish Popular Defence Committees (YPG).

Daesh is a pejorative Arabic acronym for IS.

"Any force that enters our areas without our permission would be considered an enemy force," added Jan.

He stopped short of saying whether the Kurds would turn away rebel reinforcements.

The town of Kobane has become a crucial battleground in the fight against IS, which holds significant territory in Iraq and Syria.

On Thursday, veteran Syrian rebel commander Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi said he would send fighters into Kobane across the Turkish border to support its Kurdish defenders.

Jan voiced suspicion about Okaidi's intentions saying the Kurds would not "allow him to play the role of a Trojan horse".

Speaking in the Estonian capital, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Syria's main Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) had "accepted" 1,300 FSA fighters.

His remarks drew scorn from the PYD, which Erdogan a day earlier had branded a "terrorist organisation".

"How can Turkey coordinate with a party that it has accused of terrorism?" said its spokesman in Europe, Nawaf Khalil.

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.

Iraqi Kurds have said they will send up to 200 fighters through Turkey to Kobane to fight IS.

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