Obama, Turkey's Erdogan discuss Syria, Kobani

The leaders discussed the situation in Kobani, along with steps to fight the advance of ISIL militants.

Obama, Turkey's Erdogan discuss Syria, Kobani

World Bulletin/News Desk

President Obama called Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan late Saturday night, seeking help as the ISIL closes in on a Syrian city near the Turkish border.

"The situation in Kobani" and "steps that could be taken to counter ISIL" dominated the Obama-Erdogan conversation, the White House said in a statement.

Obama "expressed appreciation for Turkey hosting over a million refugees, including thousands from Kobani," Obama said. "The two leaders pledged to continue to work closely together to strengthen cooperation against ISIL."

Obama and Erdogan also discussed peace efforts in Afghanistan, the White House said.

Speaking on Saturday night en route from the Afghan capital of Kabul to Istanbul, referring to the U.S. demand for access to Turkey's Incirlik Air Base near the Mediterranean Sea, Erdogan said that any demand which ran counter to Turkish interests would not be acceptable.

He asked: "What do they want from us in Incirlik? This is not clear yet."

"If it becomes clear, we can evaluate it with our security forces. But it is impossible to say 'yes' to something which we don't see as appropriate."

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last Thursday that the key military assistance the U.S. sought from Turkey was access to the military air base within the scope of coalition forces targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, in Syria.

Comprehensive solution

The high cost that the U.S. pays for air operations will be decreased if Turkey allows it to use the Incirlik airbase, as it is located near northern Syria, observers say.

The Turkish government has insisted on the establishment of a no-fly zone to halt attacks by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Syrian opposition forces, and the setting-up of a safe haven near the Turkey-Syrian border for refugees fleeing ISIL attacks in Syria.

Turkey has repeatedly said the fight against ISIL requires a comprehensive strategy and has demanded the removal of the Assad regime in Syria which, according to Ankara, is part of a comprehensive solution needed to defeat ISIL.

Erdogan also criticized speculation surrounding the arming of the Democratic Union Party, or PYD - an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Syria - currently fighting ISIL around the Turkey-Syria border town of Kobani.

 Erdogan said: "Creating an anti-ISIL front could give arms support to the PYD - but PYD means PKK for us right now, which is a terrorist organization."

"We cannot say 'yes' to that if our NATO ally U.S. expects consent from us for such support."

There have been reports in the international media that the PYD has claimed to have had direct talks with the U.S. on arming its fighters at Kobani.

The U.S. has confirmed having direct talks with the group, but has not specified where or what has been discussed.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as by the U.S. and the EU.

Turkey has launched what is publicly known as the "solution process" to end the decades-old conflict with the PKK.

The conflict to date has claimed more than 40,000 peoples' lives in more than 30 years.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Ekim 2014, 17:21

Muhammed Öylek