By: David P. Griscom
Large scale ground engagements by both Iraqi and Kurdish forces have lead to more casualties on the ISIS side in recent days. The Syrian Office of Human Rights claims that up to 70 Islamic State bodies have appeared at a local hospital in Tal Abyad. This comes after a series of strikes by both the anti-ISIS coalition and the Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces. ISIS have attacked and shelled the Kurdish held city of Kobani, but as of the latest reports have lost many troops in this process.
Kobani is a border town on the Syrian and Turkish border. Turkey has not committed ground troops to the conflict and have also refused to arm Kurdish fighters. Turkey, like many Middle Eastern nations, does not recognize the right of the Kurds to statehood and finds that the Kurdish coalition is a threat to rule within their own state. The Kurdish Workers Party has fought for independence against Turkey since the 1970s and these tensions still resonate today. The Syrian Civil War has allowed Kurdish fighters to control certain northern areas of the country, which Turkey sees as destabilizing for its security interests.
Turkey’s border with Syria has been an issue in this crisis as many fighters for both sides have used this border to cross into conflict-ridden Syria. There have also been accusations that Turkey has unfairly prevented Kurdish activists from crossing the border, even those who are there to provide humanitarian aid. While the fighting continues in the area, Turkey’s inaction has in fact become action, and their political tension with the Kurdish people has only continued to grow.