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Erdogan denies IS launched Kobane attack from Turkey

Turkey's president accused the Kurdish PKK of running a 'smear campaign' against his country after IS attacked Kobane
Turkish soldiers stand guard by the border with Syria, on the way to Mursitpinar crossing in Suruc (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday denied Islamic State militants had entered the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane from Turkey to launch a series of deadly attacks on civilians and Kurdish fighters.

IS militants attacked Kobane during a surprise offensive on Thursday, which left nearly two dozen people dead and injured over 130 others. The Syrian-Kurdish town was the scene of a prolonged battle earlier this year, where US-led coalition airstrikes pummelled IS, aiding what was seen as a key Kurdish victory.

Speaking at an iftar (fast breaking) meal late on Thursday, Erdogan said claims that IS entered Kobane from Turkish territory were false and he accused the outlawed Kurdish PKK group of running a “smear campaign” against his country.

“I want to clearly and transparently express it again: no one has the right to align Turkey with extremism,” he said. “Those who became an instrument for international lobbies that are Turkey’s enemies and for Bashar al-Assad’s manipulations should firstly question themselves.”

The Turkish president condemned what he described as a “heinous” attack on Kobane and reiterated that his country’s hospitals will absorb the weight of dealing with those injured and displaced by Syria’s brutal civil war.

“All Syrian citizens who were wounded [in the Kobane attack] were brought to our country and around 130 injured are under treatment in our hospitals,” he said.

Turkey has been repeatedly accused of not doing enough to stop IS militants from entering Syria through its territory – claims Ankara has always denied.

However, a Kurdish activist, who lives less than one mile from the scene of Thursday’s attack, told British newspaper the Telegraph that he believed IS had entered from Turkey.

“If they entered from the Syrian side, they would have first come up [against] many more important targets related to the YPG (the Kurdish militia), such as the main headquarters building where there are tens of fighters and leaders, or the local administration HQ,” Mustafa Bali said.

Bali added that it was “unlikely” that IS would have got round these obstacles and then got to Kobane, which is very close to the Turkish border, in order to kill civilians.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu denied that Turkey has ever aided any terrorist groups, including IS.

“We have never supported a terrorist organisation, helped a tyrant oppress a victim; we have no share in any bloodshed,” he said, according to the Anadolu Agency (AA). “We always mediate and try to build peace.”

YPG spokesperson Redur Halil was quoted by AA as backing Turkey’s position and stating that IS had entered Kobane from the south and the east, rather than from Turkish territory to the north.

The Americans have also dismissed claims Turkey allowed IS to enter Kobane from its territory, at a State Department press conference on Thursday.

"I would just point you to what the Turkish foreign ministry said about infiltration," said State Department spokesman John Kirby, when asked by a reported about the claims. "They've denied that there was any complicity in that. I mean, we have no reason not to believe them in that regard."

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