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Masrour Barzani Calls For More Assistance

Kurdish refugees look on from the Turkish side, as the fighting intensifies several kilometres away.
Kurdish refugees look on from the Turkish side, as the fighting intensifies several kilometres away.

Heavy fighting continues between the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the city of Kobani, near the Turkey-Syria border.

It’s one of the key battlegrounds in the fight against the militants, and its effects are raising humanitarian, military and geopolitical questions around the region and the world.

As the battle for Kobani continues, the argument over what to do about it is also heating up.

The United States’ Central Command says air strikes have destroyed equipment belonging to the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or IS, and the militants do not control most of the city.

But Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fighting against IS say they need more help.

Kurdish intelligence chief Masrour Barzani has told the BBC more help is vital.

“We are not getting what we need. It’s going to be a very tough fight, and we are going to lose people. You know, we are here, our Peshmergas are here, they are giving their lives, and all we need from the rest the world is to help us with the effective weapons to protect these people.”

The United States also says air strikes alone will not save Kobani, and the uncertainty around the city of 44,000 is having an impact around the region and around the world.

Affected most is Turkey.

Around 180,000 of the mainly Kurdish inhabitants of northern Syria have tried to escape the IS advance by fleeing into Turkey.

And the lack of Turkish intervention against the IS advance has caused disquiet in Turkey, particularly in the mainly Kurdish south-east of the country.

Major unrest has been seen in the streets between Kurds, police and I-S sympathisers.

Police were forced to use tear gas and water cannon and impose curfews to stop clashes in the south-east.

At least 19 people have been reported killed.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, barely six weeks into his job, has called for calm.

“I call for restraint, and I call on all citizens to remain calm, follow the developments closely and rely on the Turkish state and the power of the Turkish government. Do not drag yourselves to chaos, fulfilling the wish of certain circles.”

But US Secretary of State John Kerry has called for a wider perspective when looking at the situation in Kobani.

“As horrific as it is to watch in real time what’s happening in Kobani, it’s also important to remember you have to step back and understand the strategic objective and where we have begun over the course of the last weeks. And notwithstanding the crisis in Kobani, the original targets of our efforts have been the command-and-control centres, the infrastucture. We’re trying to deprive ISIL** of the overall ability to wage this, not just in Kobani, but throughout Syria and into Iraq.”

Turkey continues to push for the implementation of a humanitarian buffer zone.

However, it’s a strategy US Pentagon spokesman John Kirby says the United States is not adopting for now.

“This not a new issue, this desire by Turkey for a buffer zone. It’s an issue that we have discussed with them many times. When we were in Ankara just a few weeks ago, it came up. It is now not on the table as a military option that we’re considering. That said, it’s a topic of continued discussions.”

And meeting with his top military commanders at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama stuck to a similar line.

“Our strikes continue, alongside our partners. It remains a difficult mission. As I’ve indicated from the start, this is not something that is going to be solved overnight.”

For those on the battlefields and in the halls of diplomacy, and for millions of suffering people, it’s a truth that’s become painfully self-evident.

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