Kerry: Kobani not strategic
At a press conference on Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry indicated that saving the besieged Syrian town of Kobani from the terror of the "Islamic State" (IS) was not a strategic military objective for the United States.
Joined by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to address the press, Kerry also said the idea of a buffer zone proposed by Turkey should be thoroughly studied.
"As horrific as it is to watch in real time what is happening in Kobani ... you have to step back and understand the strategic objective," Kerry said.
"Notwithstanding the crisis in Kobani, the original targets of our efforts have been the command and control centers, the infrastructure," he said. "We are trying to deprive the (Islamic State) of the overall ability to wage this, not just in Kobani but throughout Syria and into Iraq."
He said the US and the UK were considering a buffer zone for the influx of refugees crossing the border from Syria - an issue Turkey should not have to deal with alone.
The advance of IS into the Kurdish town of Kobani, which can be seen from the Turkish border, has prompted 180,000 residents to flee to Turkey.
No buffer zone
Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday that a buffer zone would not immediately be set up.
"This is not a new issue," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference, as reported by Reuters news agency.
"It is now not on the table as a military option that we're considering," he said. "That said, I think it's a topic of continued discussions."
Airstrikes near Kobani
Kurdish officials said on Wednesday that there had been fresh airstrikes near Kobani.
An AFP correspondent inside the Turkish border said one strike on Kobani's outskirts had sent thick black smoke into the air.
Eastern and southwestern parts of the town had already been believed to be controlled by the group by Wednesday morning, but one local authority said the strike efforts had pushed the group back.
IS hoisted its black flag on the eastern edge of Kobani on Monday.
At least 19 people have died since Tuesday in demonstrations mostly in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast, but also in Istanbul, Ankara and other cities as protesters demanded the government take action against IS in Syria.
In response to the riots, a curfew was imposed on Wednesday in parts of the country's southeast, with soldiers and tanks on patrol in a number of cities.
"We will never tolerate vandalism and other acts of violence aimed at disturbing the peace," Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan said.
A number of countries have pressured Turkey to take action to stop the advance of IS. Ankara has authorization to send in ground forces to fight the militants, which, analysts agree, will be necessary to squelch them, but it has placed an emphasis on first removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
sb/mkg (Reuters, AFP, AP)