Abdul Hakim Bachar, the vice president of the Syrian opposition coalition and an ethnic Kurd, said that the Islamic State appeared to have attacked vulnerable Kurds in northern Syria in retaliation for earlier American airstrikes aimed at protecting Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
The Obama administration had indicated that it was planning airstrikes in Syria. By moving into Kurdish areas, Mr. Bachar said, the militants seemed to be occupying ground that they thought the United States would be reluctant to bomb.
The leader of the moderate Syrian opposition appealed Monday for American airstrikes to halt the fierce attacks by militants from the Islamic State against Kurdish communities in northern Syria, just hours before the United States and allies began a campaign against the terrorist group.
Hadi al-Bahra, the president of the Syrian opposition coalition, said in an interview that he was requesting that the United States and its partners “act fast.”
More than 130,000 Syrian Kurds have fled north to Turkey in recent days to escape attacks by the militants near a Syrian border town that Arabs refer to as Ayn-al-Arab and that Kurds call Kobani.
Earlier Monday, a senior State Department official declined to say whether the United States would take military action to protect the Syrian Kurds, saying, “I can’t basically signal where we’re going to take airstrikes.”
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