28 Oct ISIS fighters strolling right up Turkish border checkpoint for a relaxing chat with guards
A remarkable video has emerged purporting to show Islamic State militants chatting casually with a group of Turkish border guards near the besieged Syrian city of Kobane.
The amateur footage, understood to have been filmed close to Zarova Hill in the outskirts of Kobane, raises serious questions about the apparently relaxed relationship between the terror group and officials from the Nato member state.
It appears to show two heavily armed militants wandering nonchalantly up to the Turkish border fence – displaying shocking bravado as they smile and wave at the camera.
They are met by what appears to be a military vehicle full of security officials who, despite carrying weapons themselves, do little more than break into conversation with the jihadis, who eventually wander off back into Syria while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’.
Militants: The two heavily armed Islamic State jihadis wander nonchalantly up to the Turkish border fence – displaying shocking bravado as they smile and wave at the camera.
Conversation: The video shows Islamic State militants chatting casually with a group of Turkish border guards near the besieged Syrian city of Kobane.
The video was uploaded to YouTube yesterday but is understood to have been filmed on October 22. The footage has not been independently verified.
The clip begins with the two apparent jihadists lighting fires near a group of cars, which are believed to have been abandoned by desperate Kurdish families who fled Kobane in recent weeks when ISIS militants stepped up their attacks on the city.
After appearing to realise they are being filmed from inside Turkey, the pair start walking towards the border fence, stopping only to mockingly wave at the amateur filmmaker.
As they reach the border fence, an armoured military vehicle belonging to Turkish border guards speeds up to meet them. Heavily armed officials jump out the back of the car and – after briefly talking on their radios, simply engage the men in conversation.
At one point the situation appears tense and a border guard scampers towards the militants with his gun briefly raised, but he stops seconds later and also begins talking to the men.
After several minutes chatting, the militants wander off, defiantly raising their index finger to the sky to represent jihadism while chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ – a phrase that translates as ‘God is the greatest’.
Responce: As the militants reach the border fence, an armoured military vehicle belonging to Turkish border guards speeds up to meet them.
Casual: At one point the situation appears tense and a border guard scampers towards the militants with his gun briefly raised, but he stops seconds later and also begins talking to the men.
Bravado: After several minutes chatting, the militants wander off, defiantly raising their index finger to the sky to represent jihadism while chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ – a phrase that translates as ‘God is the greatest’.
The shocking video raises yet more questions of Ankara’s commitment to defeating the terror group.
Just over a week ago militants shot and wounded a senior Syrian rebel commander Abu Issa in a bungled kidnapping in the southeastern Turkish town of Urfa.
Previously Ankara drew a great deal of international criticism for refusing to intervene to help Kurdish fighters battling militants just 200 yards over the border in Kobane.
There are also serious questions over why Turkey has allowed thousands of Western jihadists – who enter the country on budget airlines in tourist resorts – to easily pass over the border into Syria to join ISIS fighters there.
Turkey has long argued that ISIS does not have a presence in the country.
Others claim small cells are able to operate in southern Turkish towns, easily popping over the border to fight in Syria before returning home to Turkey.
There are even claims from those on the ground that wounded ISIS militants are routinely smuggled from the frontline to receive treatment in Turkish hospitals, which are better equipped and less-stretched than those in northern Syria.
Turkey has also been accused of allowing up to 3,000 detained Western jihadists to rejoin the Islamic State in Syria in return for the release 49 diplomats who had been held prisoner by the terrorists.
Experts believe Turkey’s reluctance to fully commit to the fight against ISIS is two-fold.
Firstly the brave Kurdish fighters battling ISIS in northern Syria have links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party – a group long-banned in Turkey amid accusations of terrorism.
Secondly, due to Turkey sharing borders with both Syria and Iraq, Ankara is understood to be worried that any move against ISIS could trigger a wave a car and suicide bombings there – something that would be devastating for the country’s hugely important tourism industry.
The video emerged as dozens of Kurdish peshmerga fighters left northern Iraq on their way to Turkey, from where they will continue their journey to help Syrian Kurds battling ISIS in Kobane.
According to spokesman Halgurd Hekmat, a total of 150 peshmerga fighters left from the city of Irbil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region. He gave no further details.
Last week, the local Iraqi Kurdish government authorised the peshmerga forces to go to neighbouring Syria and help fellow Kurds combat Islamic State militants in Kobane.
Turkey, which has riled Kurdish leaders and frustrated Washington by refusing to allow fighters or weapons into Kobane said last week it would help Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross into Syria.
The unprecedented deployment will provide much-needed boots on the ground in Kobane, although it is not clear whether the fighters will be allowed to carry enough weapons to make an impact.
This afternoon, a large peshmerga convoy with heavy weapons was seen in Irbil, driving toward the Iraqi Kurdish area of Dohuk. The fighters themselves left separately, travelling by plane.
Idriss Nassan, a Kurdish official from Kobane, said they have no confirmation that peshmerga fighters are to arrive today. ‘We have no information other than what we are reading on social media or hearing on the news.’
He added that the peshmerga command might have direct contact with the Syrian Kurdish force known as the Peoples’ Protection Units, or YPG, and for that reason Kurdish politicians in Syria are not aware of the movement.
The Islamic State group launched its offensive on Kobane and nearby villages in mid-September in battles that have killed more than 800 people, according to activists.
The extremists captured dozens of Kurdish villages around Kobane and now also control parts of the town. The battles also made more than 200,000 people flee for safety across the border into Turkey.
By John Hall