Peshmerga fighters head to Syria


Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Dozens of Iraq’s Kurdish peshmerga fighters are flying to Turkey and from there will cross into the Syrian border town of Kobani to help fellow Kurds fight Muslim militants, a spokesman for the Kurdish force said.

According to spokesman Halgurd Hekmat, the peshmerga fighters will leave the city of Irbil, in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, later today. 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 Kobani. A total of 150 peshmerga fighters were allowed to go to Kobani through Turkey.

Turkey, which has riled Kurdish leaders and frustrated Washington by refusing to allow fighters or weapons into Kobani, said last week it would help Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross into Syria.

The unprecedented deployment will provide much-needed boots on the ground in Kobani, 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 convoy was moving by land and it was not immediately clear if the fighters had left or would leave on a plane and the convoy would drive to Turkey.

Idriss Nassan, a Kurdish official from Kobani, 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 Kobani 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 Kobani 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.

Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

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