ISTANBUL — Kurds across Turkey have protested against the government’s lack of support for the defenders of the Syrian border town of Kobani, which is being attacked by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters. Several people were reported dead and curfews were imposed.
Demonstrators clashed with police and, in some areas, with members of local Islamist groups, according to Turkish media. Haberturk website said that 15 people were killed, most of them in Diyarbakir, Turkey’s largest Kurdish city. A curfew was imposed there at 10 p.m. local time yesterday, as well as in Mardin, Siirt, Batman and Van, according to Hurriyet newspaper. Protesters shouted ‘‘Murderer ISIS!’’ and accused Turkey’s government of collaborating with the Islamic militants.
The outpouring of anger came as Syrian Kurdish fighters battled to prevent Islamic State militants from overrunning Kobani, a mostly Kurdish city in north Syria a couple of miles south of the Turkish border. Kurds have blamed the Turkish government for not doing enough to help the town’s defenders.
The U.S., which is leading a coalition in an aerial bombing campaign against Islamic State, has increased strikes around Kobani.
U.S. and allied planes carried out five airstrikes there yesterday and the previous day, destroying an Islamic State unit and several armed vehicles, the U.S. Central Command said in an e-mailed statement.
The airstrikes against militants “were effective and have slowed their advance,” Ibrahim Kurdo, a local official in Kobani, said by phone, describing the Kurdish position there as “better than it was two days ago.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, is “falling or about to fall.”
Its capture would extend Islamic State’s grip on territory along Syria’s border with NATO-member Turkey. The group’s self-declared caliphate extends from there into Iraq, where it has taken control of major towns in Anbar province to the west of Baghdad in recent days.
Kurdish leaders say Turkey and the U.S.-led alliance aren’t doing enough to help them battle the al-Qaeda breakaway group, which is equipped with tanks and heavy artillery, out-gunning Kobani’s lightly armed defenders. Turkey has massed tanks and troops near the border.
The Syrian Kurds fighting in Kobani have links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey for three decades. “We are against the PKK as much as we are against” Islamic State, Erdogan said yesterday.
The tensions over Kobani are endangering the peace process that Erdogan initiated with Turkey’s Kurds, seeking an end to a three-decade conflict that has left tens of thousands dead. The PKK has threatened to end a cease-fire if Kobani falls.