As a vicious battle for the Syrian town of Kobani rages between Kurdish forces and Islamic State fighters, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a warning on Tuesday that the town was about to fall into ISIS hands. He added that airstrikes might not be enough to repel the Islamic State invasion: "There has to be cooperation with those who are fighting on the ground." Kobani, which once had a population of roughly 400,000 people, is just miles from the Syrian border with Turkey.
Erdogan's remarks came as The Wall Street Journal reported that American-led airstrikes against Islamic State forces intensified overnight, signaling broader American involvement. After nearly three weeks of fighting, the battle for Kobani entered a new phase as ISIS made headway into the eastern outskirts of town on Monday, raising the group's black flag over a few buildings. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had documented over 400 deaths since the fighting began, but expected that the true number of casualties was probably twice as high.
Turkey, for its part, seems ambivalent about its role in the fight. While it says it won't let ISIS take over the town, it also hasn't joined the effort to stop the group and doesn't seem interested in joining a campaign that will benefit Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, whom Turkey wants to see deposed. Turkey's involvement would also put the country squarely in line with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group that Turkey has battled for decades.