Turkey’s announcement followed overnight U.S. airdrops of weapons and ammunition to the Syrian border town, which has faced steady Islamic State attacks for weeks.
The decision by Turkey marks a possible breakthrough in its political calculations over aiding the U.S.-led battles against the Islamic State, a radical al-Qaeda offshoot also known as ISIS or ISIL. A major consideration for Turkey is the interconnection between various factions of Kurds, whose ethnic homeland spreads across Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran.
But the U.S.-dropped supplies and possible fresh fighters are expected to give a big boost to the battle against the Islamic State advance on Kobane, which is within sight of the Turkish border and has been the target of escalating American-led airstrikes.
Last week, Kurds in Kobane said they had turned the tide of the battle and forced the Islamic State to retreat from several areas of the town. But Syrian Kurds also warned they were running low on weapons and ammunition.
The U.S. airdrops overnight Sunday followed a telephone call between President Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was informed about the mission.
“We never wanted Kobane to fall,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in the Turkish capital, Ankara.
The deal followed days of talks in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Dahuk between Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish factions as well as U.S. officials.
The Kobane fighters are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a group based in southeastern Turkey that has fought Turkish forces since the mid-1980s, seeking greater autonomy. Its leaders have threatened to tear up a recent peace accord with Turkey if Kobane fell. Both Turkey and the United States have declared the PKK a terrorist organization.
The U.S. airdrops were the first into Syria since the civil war there began more than three years ago.
The airdrops — totaling what officials said were 27 “bundles” of supplies delivered by three C-130 cargo planes — followed a week of intensive U.S. and coalition airstrikes against militant forces in and around Kobane.
Officials did not specify where the planes took off but said the operation lasted about four hours, beginning at 4 p.m. Washington time. The C-130s, which fly low and slowly, were not accompanied by fighter jets, they said, because the Islamic State is not thought to have antiaircraft weapons.
In deciding to focus extensive firepower on Kobane, the administration is seeking to avoid a militant propaganda victory in a place that has garnered intense attention from reporters based just over the Turkish border.
Over the past week, the administration has tried unsuccessfully to persuade Turkey to open its border to the resupply.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry said he understood Turkey’s delicate situation with the PKK, but he stressed that it would be “irresponsible” not to send aid to the Kurdish fighters in Kobane.
“It would be irresponsible of us, as well morally very difficult, to turn your back on a community fighting ISIL as hard as it is at this particular moment,” he said in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Syrian Kurds in Kobane “are valiantly fighting ISIL and we cannot take our eye off the prize here,” Kerry added.
Turkey also has tried to leverage its support for the coalition effort to secure a U.S. pledge to expand its military campaign against the Islamic State to a fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The U.S. Central Command said that “no U.S.-made weapons” were included in the Syria resupply. Iraq’s Kurdish pesh merga military force uses mostly Soviet-era Russian weapons, which the United States arranged last summer to be supplied by former Soviet-bloc countries now in NATO.