Iraqi-Kurdish fighters join battle for Kobane

Iraqi-Kurdish fighters join battle for Kobane
Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga troops have left their base to join the fighting in the Syrian town of Kobane, after Turkey says that they can cross its territory "at any moment" to fight Islamic State.
2 min read
28 October, 2014
The YPG and IS are fighting over Kobane [Getty]
Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are on their way to join the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) in the Syrian town of Kobane.

The latest development comes after Turkey said that the armed Kurds could travel through Turkey and cross into Syria at "any moment".

Kobane, which lies just hundreds of metres from the Turkish border, has been the scene of fierce fighting between Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) forces and the IS group.

US-led coalition air strikes have also targeted IS positions in and around Kobane.

"There is now no political problem. There is no problem in the way of them crossing. They can cross at any moment," said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Crossing borders

Some 80 fighters are to make the journey from their base northeast of the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil, overland through Turkey, a military source told the AFP news agency.

Another 72 are to fly to Turkey and then travel to Kobane.

There had been speculation that the deployment of the Peshmerga had been held up by a dispute between Turkey and the YPG about their reinforcement.

In a BBC interview broadcast on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that his country wanted the opposition Free Syrian Army to take control of Kobane should IS be forced out. Davutoglu also described the Kurdistan Workers' Party, an ally of the YPG, as "terrorists" - further highlighting the tensions between Turkey and the Kurdish factions fighting IS.
     If ISIS leaves, the PKK terrorists should not come. If ISIS is eliminated, the brutal massacres should not continue.
- Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkish PM

The United States should equip and train the Free Syrian Army, "so that if ISIS leaves, the regime should not come", he said, using the former acronym for the IS group.

"If ISIS leaves the PKK terrorists should not come. If ISIS is eliminated, the brutal massacres should not continue," he added.

The PKK has waged a three-decade insurgency for self-rule and is regarded as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States, and most of Europe. The PKK's leader Abdullah Ocalan is incarcerated in a Turkish prison.

Meanwhile, the US has said that the cost of the air campaign against IS, which began on August 8, had now reached $580 million, higher than the previously given figure of $7 million a day.

Some former budget officials and outside experts estimate the cost of the war has already exceeded a billion dollars, and that it could rise to several billion dollars within a year.