SURUC, TURKEY - The anger of Turkish Kurds is mounting over the plight of the Syrian border town of Kobani, which has been besieged for weeks by jihadists. Turkish Kurds say Turkey should intervene to save the town and warn darkly of a renewed Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey if the town falls.
They have come from Kurdish towns from across Turkey to express solidarity with fellow Kurds in Syria, battling now for two weeks to prevent the militants of the Islamic State group from seizing the Syrian border town of Kobani.
Along a 20-kilometer stretch of the border, in tiny villages and among derelict smallholdings, they watched the battle rage in nearby Kobani. The Turkish Kurds winced when they heard the crash of tank shells and whoosh of mortars. They pointed at rising smoke and they expressed anger with Turkish and Western reluctance to intervene to save the town where there have been reports of atrocities.
And they warned that a peace process that has been under way to end formally a 30-year Kurdish self-rule insurgency inside Turkey would be imperiled if jihadists captured Kobani.
The Kurdish mayor of the town of Batman, Sabri Ozdemir, is among the hundreds of Kurds who have descended on the border.
He said if Kobani fell, then Turkey would fall, meaning the already faltering peace process would be ended by the Kurdistan’s Workers Party, the PKK.
The mayor was echoing what the jailed leader of the outlawed PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, warned last week from his prison cell. A new Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey would add to the region's woes.
The Islamic State jihadists, who have modern tanks and weaponry they captured from Iraqi forces, outgun the Kobani Kurds. Most non-combatants have fled the town, leaving only fighters and the old.
Despite the pleas of its own Kurdish population, Turkey fears being sucked into the Syrian civil war if it steps in to protect the Kobani Kurds.
The Islamic State jihadists are just a few minutes drive from the center of Kobani.
Thirty-two-year-old Sewketi said he has watched the fighting from the border area.
Sewketi said U.S. warplanes roared overhead twice in the past few days and launched three missiles close by Kobani each time.
Kurdish defense sources told VOA the strikes pushed back the jihadists by about a kilometer. But they said that if Kobani were to hold, more strikes were needed.
Despite the risks of returning to Kobani - and the efforts by the Turkish military to stop them - some Kurdish fighters are slipping back into Syria after getting their families out to join the 180,000 Syrian Kurds who have fled to Turkey.
Thirty-year-old Roniya said he had to go back because he missed his home and whether he lived or died did not matter.