Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Kurdish forces in Kobani have called on Ankara to carry out an immediate investigation into how Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters were able to launch a suicide attack on the city from Turkish territory on Saturday. The incident represents the first time that ISIS has launched an attack on the Syrian border town from Turkey.
Four ISIS fighters blew themselves up in Kobani on Saturday, including a car bomb which targeted the Mursitpinar border crossing between Syria and Turkey, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Subsequent clashes between Kurdish forces and ISIS resulted in the death of at least 30 in what represents a major attempt by jihadists to capture Kurdish-held territory in the disputed city.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, spokesman for the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) based in Kobani Mohamed Hajj Nasser called on the Turkish government to investigate how ISIS forces were able to cross into Syria from Turkish territory.
Nasser revealed that ISIS had carried out two car bomb attacks on sites in and around Kobani from Turkish territory, while two other suicide bombers had targeted other areas close to the town which has been under siege by ISIS forces for months.
“One explosion destroyed a health care center in the border region,” Nasser said.
The YPG spokesman informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the car bomb attacks had taken place at dawn on Saturday and served as a prelude to what he described as a major attempt by ISIS to capture opposition-held areas of the border town.
“ISIS forces were unable to progress [into Kobani] and we kept control of our crossings,” Nasser added, hailing the combined efforts of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Kurdish forces to weather the ISIS attack.
“The threat to Kobani remains, and the city has not been completely liberated even if we have regained control of the city center. However we are moving from defense to offensive operations at this time,” he added.
The People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Turkey’s main Kurdish party, has accused Ankara of failing to deal with the presence of ISIS fighters on Turkish soil. In a statement issued on Saturday following the attack, HDP claimed that ISIS fighters were utilizing state grain depots on the Turkish side of the border as a base from which to attack Kobani, describing this as a “scandal” for Turkish security forces.
“As we have been pointing out for months, this once more proves that ISIS is being supported (from within Turkey),” the HDP statement said.
Ankara has strongly denied Kurdish claims that it is tacitly supporting the jihadists. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s office stressed that Ankara has taken “all necessary precautions” along the Syrian-Turkish border, denying the reports that Saturday’s attack on Kobani had come from Turkish territory.