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Peshmerga fighters on their way to Syria

BEIRUT |, with agencies - October 29, 2014, 11h03
Refugees flee Kobani in September. Photo: UNHCR
150 Iraqi Kurdish fighters make their way to Kobani via Turkey to help join the fight against ISIS extremists.
On Wednesday Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga troops arrived in Turkey on their way to Kobani after Ankara agreed to allow troops to enter Syria via Turkey. 150 Iraqi Kurdish troops arrived in the early morning in Turkey to make the journey to Kobani on the Syrian Turkish border where their Kurdish brethren have been battling ISIS extremists for over one month.

Although Turkey have allowed Kurdish groundforces to use the country as a stepping stone, the Turkish Prime Minister reiterated in an interview with the BBC that Turkey would only take part in the fight against ISIS once the US-led coalition against IS had an "integrated strategy" that included action against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Since ISIS launched its offensive against Kobani in mid-September, more than 800 people have been killed, according to the Daily Star. Currently the extremists have taken several Kurdish villages around Kobani and parts of the northern Syrian town itself although coalition airstrikes against militants in the area have had some effect.

Turkey’s role in the anti-ISIS coalition has been controversial. Ankara has been reluctant to send assistance to the Syrian Kurds who it sees as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. However it has a better relationship with the Iraqi Kurds.

The action marked the first mission for the peshmerga outside of Iraq and it has been met with much Kurdish and international support.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said U.S. officials "certainly encourage" the deployment of Iraqi peshmerga forces to Kobani. although it is unclear whether Turkey will allow the peshmerga fighters to carry enough weaponry to be truly effective.
#Kobané, #Kurds, #Turkey, #Syria, #ISIS
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