A US airstrike in Kobane.
A US airstrike in Kobane.Reuters

The US made a “big mistake” when it gave arms to Kurdish soldiers trying ti defend the border city of Kobane, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. The US dropped weapons from planes for Kurdish troops – and some of them apparently ended up in the hands of the ISIS terrorists the Kurds are trying to defend Kobani against.

"It has become clear that this was wrong," Erdogan told reporters Wednesday. "Why did it turn out wrong? Because some of the weapons they dropped from those C130s were seized” by ISIS.

Erdogan was opposed to the idea of American-supplied weapons for the Kurds, fighting the move for weeks in the face of heavy pressure from Washington. In Erdogan's view, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is the main group fighting ISIS in Kobane, is “no different” than Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Turkey claims is a terror group that has attacked Turkey over the issue of Kurdish independence.

Last week Erdogan said that “there has been talk about forming a front against ISIS by giving the PYD arms. But the PYD, for us, is equal to the PKK; it is a terrorist organization,” Erdoğan said. It would be very wrong for the US, a NATO ally, to openly talk of such support [to the PYD] and expect us to agree,” refusing to allow the US to transport weapons over Turkey for the Kurds.

Erdogan finally relented Sunday, enabling US planes to fly over Turkey and drop weapons for the Kurds, but at least some of the weapons were taken by jihadis after being mistakenly dropped over ISIS-controlled territory.

Turkey has joined the US's anti-ISIS international coalition recently, but a closer alignment with the Kurds even at the cost of tension with Turkey may have its merits. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura warned last week that the fall of Kobane could see thousands of people massacred by ISIS jihadists, as they have done in the past when the opportunity presented itself. On the political and strategic scale, however, Kobane's fall would present another problem: ISIS gaining a major stronghold along the Turkish border. 

Concerns over ISIS sweeping through Turkish territory - after it already barged into Iraq and engaged in skirmishes in Lebanon and Jordan - are so high that Turkish officials asked the US to step up its offensive against Kobane's fall earlier this month.