National & World News
Erdogan: US airdrop to Kurds in Kobani a mistake
ISTANBUL (AP) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that the U.S. made a mistake in airdropping weapons to Kurds defending the Syrian city of Kobani from the Islamic State group.
Erdogan told reporters in reporters in Ankara on Wednesday that the move was a mistake because some of the weapons ended up in IS hands.
According to Turkey's private Dogan news agency, Erdogan said: "It turns out that what was done was wrong."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday that the Islamic militants seized a small part of the airdrop that included hand grenades, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
The caches were airdropped early on Monday to Kurds in embattled Kobani, near the Turkish border. Differences about how to defend Kobani have sparked tensions between Turkey and its NATO partners.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
The parliament of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq voted Wednesday to authorize sending Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga to the embattled town of Kobani in Syria, where fellow Kurdish fighters are facing an onslaught by militants of the Islamic State group.
Peshmerga spokesman Halgurd Hekmat in Irbil said Wednesday there is still a lot of uncertainty on details, including how many forces will be sent and when.
The vote comes two days after Turkey said it would help Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross into Syria to support their brethren defending the town.
The Kurdish government in the largely autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq is known to be friendly to the Turkish government.
Still, it was unprecedented for Turkey to promise to give Kurds passage to fight in Syria.
Ankara views the main Syrian Kurdish military force fighting IS militants as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. That group has waged a 30-year insurgency in Turkey and is designated a terrorist group by the U.S. and NATO.
Turkey is under pressure to take greater action against the IS militants - not only from the West but also from Kurds in Syria and inside Turkey who accuse Ankara of standing by while their people are slaughtered. Earlier this month across Turkey, widespread protests threatened to derail promising talks to end the PKK insurgency.
"We're sending the peshmerga, not to become YPG but to fight alongside the YPG," Hekmat said. "We will send the peshmerga to do their job for as long as they're needed and to come back after that."
Hekmat said Iraqi forces will also provide weapons, but he did not say what kind.
Sunni extremists of the Islamic State group, which has rampaged across Iraq and Syria, have been attacking Kobani for a month. The U.S. and its allies are assisting the Kurds by conducting airstrikes targeting IS infrastructure in and around the town. Earlier this week, the U.S. air dropped weapons and other assistance to the Kurds for the first time.