LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The European Union urged Turkey on Monday to open its border to allow supplies to get through to residents of the Syrian border town of Kobani that is being besieged by Islamic State insurgents.
EU governments also tightened sanctions on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which is locked in a three-year-old civil war.
They agreed to ban the export of jet fuel to Syria, saying it was being used for air attacks on civilians, and to add 16 people and two organizations to its list of sanctions on Syria.
Kurdish militias in Kobani have been fighting off an Islamic State offensive since September without outside help apart from periodic U.S.-led air strikes on the ultra-radical insurgents.
“The EU appreciates efforts by Turkey to shelter refugees from Kobani and calls on Turkey to open its border for any supply for the people of Kobani,” EU foreign ministers said in a statement after discussing the advance of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq at a meeting in Luxembourg.
The statement did not specify what kind of supplies the EU was urging Turkey to let through but an EU diplomat said the ministers had in mind humanitarian supplies rather than weapons.
Turkey said on Monday it would allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to reinforce fellow Kurds in Kobani, while the United States air-dropped arms for the first time to help the defenders resist an Islamic State assault.
Ankara views the Syrian Kurds with deep suspicion because of their ties to the PKK, a group that waged a decades-long militant campaign for Kurdish rights in Turkey and which Washington regards as a terrorist organization.
A group that monitors the Syrian civil war said last week the Kurdish forces faced inevitable defeat in Kobani if Turkey did not open its border to let through arms, something Ankara has appeared reluctant to do.
EU foreign ministers also urged governments to step up efforts to deny Islamic State the benefits of illicit sales of oil and other goods.
Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Mark Heinrich