ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Pope Francis prayed silently alongside a senior Islamic cleric in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque on Saturday, in a gesture of inter-religious harmony in a country bordering the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
Francis took off his shoes as he entered the huge mosque, before bowing his head in prayer for several minutes, facing Mecca and standing next to Istanbul’s Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran, in what a Vatican spokesman described as a joint “moment of silent adoration” of God.
ISTANBUL/SURUC Turkey (Reuters) – As southeast Turkey’s Kurds rioted last week in fury at Ankara’s refusal to rescue the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani from advancing Islamists, it was to Abdullah Ocalan that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu turned for help.
Sitting in jail on the windswept island where he has spent the last 15 years, Ocalan wields more power as a peacemaker than he ever did as the guerrilla commander leading a Kurdish insurgency in which 40,000 people have died.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – American-led forces have sharply intensified air strikes in the past two days against Islamic State fighters threatening Kurds on Syria’s Turkish border after the jihadists’ advance began to destabilize Turkey.
The coalition had conducted 21 attacks on the militants near the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani over Monday and Tuesday and appeared to have slowed Islamic State advances there, the U.S. military said, but cautioned the situation remained fluid.
ISTANBUL/SURUC Turkey (Reuters) – War against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq threatened to spill into Turkey on Tuesday, where reports emerged that the air force had bombed Kurdish fighters furious at Ankara’s refusal to help protect their kin in Syria.
At least 35 people were killed in riots last week when members of Turkey’s 15-million-strong Kurdish minority rose up in anger at the government for refusing to help defend the Syrian border town of Kobani from an Islamic State assault.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters seized more than a third of the Syrian border town of Kobani, a monitoring group said on Thursday, as U.S.-led air strikes failed to halt their advance and Turkish forces looked on without intervening.
With Washington ruling out a ground operation in Syria, Turkey said it was unrealistic to expect it to mount a cross-border operation alone to relieve the mainly Kurdish town.
SURUC Turkey (Reuters) – They died after fighting to defend Kobani. But such is the control Islamic State has around the Syrian Kurdish border town, their families have no idea when they might be able to get back to give them a proper burial there.
Instead, the Kurdish fighters have been laid to rest in hastily dug graves in Turkey, some 10 km over the border from the town they fought to save from the jihadists closing in.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters have seized more than a third of the Syrian border town of Kobani despite U.S.-led air strikes targeting them in and around the mainly Kurdish community, a monitoring group said on Thursday.
The commander of Kobani’s heavily outgunned Kurdish defenders said Islamic State controlled a slightly smaller area. However, he acknowledged that the militants had made major gains in the culmination of a three-week battle that has also led to the worst streets clashes in years between police and Kurdish protesters across the frontier in southeast Turkey.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/ANKARA (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters launched a renewed assault on the Syrian city of Kobani on Wednesday night, and at least 21 people were killed in riots in neighbouring Turkey where Kurds rose up against the government for doing nothing to protect their kin.
Heavily outgunned defenders said Islamic State militants had pushed into two districts of the mainly Kurdish border city late on Wednesday, despite U.S.-led air strikes that the Pentagon acknowledged would probably not be enough to safeguard the town.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/ANKARA (Reuters) – U.S.-led air strikes on Wednesday pushed Islamic State fighters back to the edges of the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani, which they had appeared set to seize after a three-week assault, local officials said.
The town has become the focus of international attention since the Islamists’ advance drove 180,000 of the area’s mostly Kurdish inhabitants to flee into adjoining Turkey, which has infuriated its own restive Kurdish minority — and its NATO partners in Washington — by refusing to intervene.
MURSITPINAR Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Turkey’s president said the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani was “about to fall” on Tuesday as Islamic State fighters pressed home a three-week assault that has cost a reported 400 lives and forced thousands to flee their homes.
The prospect that the town could be captured by Islamic State, who are now within city limits, has increased pressure on Turkey to join an international coalition to fight against the jihadists.