Iraqi Kurds join fight against Islamic State militants in Kobani
BEIRUT: Iraqi Kurdish fighters have joined the fight
against Islamic State militants in Kobani, hoping their support for fellow
Kurds backed by US-led air strikes will keep the ultra-hardline group from
seizing the Syrian border town.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which
monitors the civil war, said heavy clashes erupted in Kobani and that both
sides had suffered casualties, while the US military said it had launched more
air raids on Islamic State over the weekend.
Idriss Nassan, deputy minister for foreign affairs in
Kobani district, said Iraqi Kurds using long-range artillery had joined the
battle on Saturday night against Islamic State, which holds parts of Syria and
Iraq as part of an ambition to redraw the map of the Middle East.
“The peshmerga joined the battle late yesterday and it
made a big difference with their artillery. It is proper artillery,” he told
Reuters. “We didn’t have artillery we were using mortars and other locally made
weapons. So this is a good thing.”
Nassan did not elaborate and it was not immediately
possible to verify that progress against Islamic State had been made. The
arrival of the 150 Iraqi fighters - known as peshmerga or ‘those who confront
death’ - marks the first time Turkey has allowed troops from outside Syria to
reinforce Syrian Kurds, who have been defending Kobani for more than 40 days.
“They are supporting the YPG. They have a range of
semi-heavy weapons,” said Jabbar Yawar, secretary general of the peshmerga
ministry in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, referring to the main Syrian
Kurdish armed group.
Eyewitnesses in the Mursitpinar area on the Turkish
side of the border from Kobani said two rockets were fired on Saturday night.