A member of Kurdish Peshmerga forces takes ai
A member of Kurdish Peshmerga forces takes ai Reuters

In a dramatic development Monday, the Turkish government has announced that it would allow Kurdish Peshmerga forces from Iraq to cross into the embattled Syrian border town of Kobane.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Tunisian counterpart, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu defended his country's role in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group and its assault on the Kurdish town.

"We never wanted Kobane to fall," Çavuşoğlu insisted, according to Turkey's Today's Zaman, as he confirmed earlier reports in Kurdish media outlets that Peshmerga fighters would be granted safe passage through his country to help their brethren in Kobane.

The announcement appears to be the result of significant US pressure, and came after the US military upped its support of Kurdish fighters inside Kobane itself, airdropping weapons and ammunition to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) despite the Turkish government's firm opposition.

The YPG is closely affiliated with the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - a proscribed terrorist group in Turkey with whom the country fought a bloody insurgency that cost the lives of some 40,000 people.

Many Kurds have accused the Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of indirectly supporting ISIS in its efforts to take Kobane, by allowing jihadis to operate freely while stopping Kurds from crossing into Syria to help defend the town, in order to destroy the recently-declared autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria.

The decision to allow Peshmerga fighters to cross into Syria would represent a compromise: while Turkey opposes Kurdish autonomy or independence and views the PKK as terrorists, Iraq's autonomous region is run by a rival Kurdish faction with whom Turkey does have relatively good relations.

Peshmerga forces have until now been fighting ISIS's advances in Iraq, together with Shia militias and Iraqi army forces.

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