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Kobani Kurdish Leader Appeals To Western Governments For Help

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Kurdish fighters are holding out against ISIS militants in the Syrian town of Kobani, aided by U.S. airstrikes. Kobani is just over the border from Turkey. The Turkish foreign minister said today it is not realistic to expect his country to conduct a military ground operation against the so-called Islamic State militants.

We'll hear in a moment from our correspondent in Istanbul, but first - to a leader of the Syrian Kurdish party known as the Democratic Union Party, or PYD. We reached him in Brussels today and he told us that he is in hourly contact with the Kurds fighting in Kobani.

SALEH MUSLIM: Kobani is not fallen yet. It's still resisting and there are maybe thousands of the people around and they're fighting ISIS. They say it will never fall.

SIEGEL: From what you've heard from people in Kobani, how effective have the airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition been?

MUSLIM: They are very effective. Since three days, the recent three days, the strikes, they were very effective and the people were happy with them. But still, I mean, it should be continuing even today, tomorrow, until we can break this siege on Kobani because there are tanks. I mean, they cannot destroy these tanks and these Humvees with classic weapons.

So because of that, they need the airstrikes, or to supply them with these anti-tanks and anti-armor weapons.

SIEGEL: But I mean, just within sight of the fighting in Kobani there are Turkish forces across the border. They have artillery.

MUSLIM: Yes.

SIEGEL: Would you welcome Turkish artillery fire against the ISIS forces?

MUSLIM: Well, they are standing beside. I've heard they have about 20 tanks alone just on the border. They are not doing anything against them. This is one.

Second, there are many accusers, I mean, against Turkey. They're saying ISIS is still crossing the border freely and they're supporting them, they're reinforcing. It's many rumors about that also. So we are not looking for an invasion, we are asking just for the help to our people.

SIEGEL: It's well-established that Turkey was assisting fighters from ISIS getting into Syria. That was the case. They say they've cracked down and that they're not doing that anymore. Are you suggesting that they still are?

MUSLIM: Yeah, I'm not suggesting. Just a few days ago there was a television channel - a Turkish television channel, I think live - showing that ISIS members are crossing the border to Kobani.

SIEGEL: What is it that the fighters in Kobani want from Turkey? Do they want troops to enter?

MUSLIM: No, no. They don't want the troops. When we were talking about how to reach to these people to support them - we have many of YPD members that are trying to get in, but it's impossible because everywhere is surrounded and there is no way. I mean, through Turkey they can't go anywhere.

SIEGEL: If I hear you right, you want the Turks to allow Kurdish fighters to cross the border, come over from Turkey and join in the defense of Kobani?

MUSLIM: Yeah, come through Turkey because already we have those people and they are ready to join their friends in Kobani - the young people who want to support their friends.

SIEGEL: Saleh Muslim, thank you very much for talking with us.

MUSLIM: Thank you very much, too.

SIEGEL: Saleh Muslim is co-chair of the Democratic Union Party of Syria, also known as the PYD. He spoke with us from Brussels. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.