Syria condemns ISIS attack

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

SYRIA has condemned the ferocious ISIS attack on the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobane and pledged to provide relief aid to “reinforce its people’s steadfastness in the face of the terrorist siege” by the sectarian Sunni Muslim militia whose followers control large swathes of Iraq and parts of northern Syria.

Kobane, which is also known as Ein al-Arab, is part of the Syrian Kurdish autonomous region known as Rojava. It now faces the wrath of ISIS which has proclaimed its own “Islamic Caliphate” in the territory it holds. Taking the town would give ISIS an open border with Turkey making it easier to transport the convoys of arms and jihadist volunteers that cross over with the covert blessing of the Turkish authorities.

Kurdish fighters are struggling to halt the ISIS advance in the suburbs of the city on the Syrian-Turkish border while American war-planes, along with those of its Nato and Arab allies, have stepped up their strikes on ISIS positions to help the battered Kurds who have held off the ISIS onslaught for over three weeks.

Meanwhile back in Washington there is increasing frustration at the failure of US air-power to halt the ISIS offensive and growing talk about sending yet another US expeditionary force to the Middle East. Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives, said as much on CBS’s Face the Nation programme on Sunday. But the Russians will only back a possible UN resolution on the use of ground forces against ISIS if the document includes a peacekeeping mandate approved by Iraq and Syria.

In the beginning ISIS was a tool of US imperialism, funded and armed by the Americans with the help of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to assist in the US bid for regime change in Syria. But direct US support ended after ISIS launched its spring offensive, in alliance with the Iraqi Baath, which almost toppled the Shia Muslim dominated Baghdad government and left ISIS in control of many of Iraq’s oil-fields. The Americans were forced to use their air-power against their former collaborators to drive the militia out of the oil-fields and contain a movement that they could no longer control.

ISIS launched its offensive in northern Syria on 16th September taking over 300 villages around Kobane and forcing over 160,000 people to flee to safety in Turkish Kurdistan. Hundreds of fighters from the underground Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) militia have crossed the other way to help Kobane’s local People’s Protection Units (YPG) defend the city from almost certain massacre if it falls into the hands of ISIS.

In Turkey there is mounting anger at the ambivalent attitude of the reactionary AKP government, which many believe is a front for the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood. Turkish premier Ahmet Davutoglu had said that Turkey will do whatever is necessary to prevent the fall of Kobane. But everyone knows that his government has been less than covertly supplying the reactionary Syrian rebels including ISIS for the past three years while seeking to impose a “no-fly zone” over northern Syria to provide Nato cover for the terror gangs fighting to overthrow the Baathist-led popular front government in Damascus.

This week that anger exploded when the Kurdish parties and their Turkish supporters launched protests in Istanbul, Ankara and throughout Turkish Kurdistan to demand action over Kobane. Tens of thousands of Kurds took to the streets across Turkey, Europe and the world in solidarity with the Kobane resistance and in protest against the ongoing attacks of ISIS militia on the besieged Kurdish town.

Demonstrators demanding urgent action worldwide in support of the Kobane defenders targeted AKP offices for their protests. And they moved to defend themselves when the police opened up with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon to break up the demonstrations. Sixteen people were killed in the clashes and curfews have been imposed on several provinces in Turkish Kurdistan.