The UN has warned of a repeat of the Srebrenica massacre if Kobani falls to Islamist fighters.
In an effort to push Turkey to act, Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, evoked the memory of the Bosnian war, when thousands of Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serbs.
“We would like to appeal to the Turkish authorities in order to allow the flow of volunteers at least and their own equipment in order to be able to enter the city and contribute to a self defence operation,” he said.
Turkey has so far refused to allow Turkish Kurds to cross the border to help defend the town. Tanks have been lined up along the border overlooking Kobani, but Ankara is reluctant to intervene without international support.
While most of the residents have managed to flee, around 700 mainly elderly people remain trapped in the centre, with 10-13,000 taking refuge nearby.
The fate of Kobani has led to violent street protests which have left at least 31 dead. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to be moved by the demos saying,
“Turkey is not a country that would determine its domestic and foreign policy based on the violent acts of terrorists and riffraff.”
The violence across the border risks stirring up ethnic tensions and destroying a peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has waged a 30-year insurgency against the Turkish government.