Turkey denied on Saturday that jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have launched an attack on the border town of Kobane from its territory, an official statement said.
The statement from the Turkish prime minister’s office said that “it is known that the terrorist group ISIS has been attacking too many places simultaneously in Kobane and also to Mursitpinar border gate since this morning.”
It added: “One of these attacks was made in the Syrian side of the border by a bomb-laden vehicle.
The allegation that the vehicle in the mentioned attack reached the border gate through Turkish land is definitely a lie.”
It also confirmed that none of the Turkish officials said that the bomb-laden vehicle has passed the border from Turkey.
The statement came after a Kurdish and activists said ISIS militants’ attack came from Turkish territories.
ISIS group “used to attack the town from three sides,” Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party, told the Associated Press. “Today, they are attacking from four sides.”
The assault began with a suicide bomb in an armored vehicle on the border crossing between Kobane and Turkey, said Khalil and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Kurds say attack ‘scandal’
Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP party said the militants were using state grain depots on the Turkish side of the border as a base from which to attack Kobani and described their presence in an area patrolled by Turkish security forces as a “scandal.”
“As we have been pointing out for months, this once more proves that Islamic State is being supported (from within Turkey),” the HDP said in a statement.
Turkey, while previously backing the Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad in that country’s civil war, has been hesitant to aid the Kobane fight over its own fears about stoking Kurdish ambitions for an independent state. Ankara had no immediate comment Saturday about ISIS fighters launching the assault from Turkish soil.
Associated Press journalists saw thick black smoke rise over Kobane amid the attack. The sound of heavy gunfire echoed through the surrounding hills as armored vehicles took up positions on the border. The Observatory said heavy fighting also took place southwest of the town where ISIS brought in tanks to reinforce their fighters.
ISIS began its Kobane offensive in mid-September, capturing parts of the town as well as dozens of nearby villages. The town later became the focus of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition against the militants.
Kurdish fighters slowly have been advancing in Kobane since late October, when dozens of Iraqi Peshmerga fighters joined fellow Syrian Kurds in the battles. The fighting has killed hundreds of fighters on both sides over the past two months.
The Observatory said Saturday the latest fighting killed at least eight Kurdish fighters and 17 jihadists.
ISIS has declared a self-styled Islamic caliphate in areas under its control in Iraq and Syria, governing it according to its violent interpretation of Shariah law. The group has carried out mass killings targeting government security forces, ethnic minorities and others against it.
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