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Erdogan: FSA to Help Kurds Defend Kobani

  • VOA News

Turkey's president says Syrian Kurds and Free Syrian Army fighters are joining forces to defend the city of Kobani from Islamic State militants.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has agreed to allow Syrian rebels to transit through his country, said Friday that a deal had been reached allowing 1,300 moderate Syrian rebels safe passage to the besieged city.

But a leader of a major Syrian Kurdish party has reportedly said there is no deal yet. Reuters reports that PYD co-chair Saleh Moslem said his group has been in contact with the FSA, but no such agreement has been reached.

Kurdish fighters are in the second month of battling to maintain control of Kobani, known also as Ayn al-Arab.

Ankara was drawn into anti-Islamic State efforts after the ultra-radical militant group launched an offensive only kilometers away from Turkey's frontier in September.

But Turkey has yet to act militarily, and has not joined the multi-front air raids against IS headed by the United States.

U.S. military officials said Friday that U.S. aircraft carried out six overnight strikes against extremist targets in Kobani, and an additional 12 airstrikes against IS targets in nearby Iraq. French officials say French airstrikes destroyed an IS weapons arsenal in Iraq.

A Pentagon spokesman said the U.S., Arab and European coalition strikes are impeding movement by IS fighters, as well as their ability to communicate and to train recruits. Rear Admiral John Kirby also said it is unlikely that the extremist group will be able to repair or replace military hardware destroyed in the attacks.

French officials say French airstrikes destroyed an Islamic State weapons arsenal in Iraq.

The United States, along with European and Arab partner countries, are conducting daily air raids in Iraq and Syria to help local ground forces push back IS militants.

On Thursday, the U.S. military said Iraq's military is still "months" away from a major offensive to retake territory lost to the Islamic State group.

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