Kurds await reinforcements in Kobane as IS attacks intensify

Kurds await reinforcements in Kobane as IS attacks intensify
Kurdish troops face fierce attacks, after news that Turkey will allow Kurdish reinforcements to arrive from Iraq.
2 min read
21 October, 2014
Fierce fighting continues in Kobane [Getty]

Attacks by fighters of the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS) have intensified in the Syrian border town of Kobane, as IS attempts to push out Kurdish fighters from the town before expected reinforcements arrive from Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) faced a number of attacks late on Monday, including suicide bombs, after a relative lull earlier in the day. The tide has appeared to be turning in Kobane, with the United States airdropping weapons and ammunition to YPG fighters, and news emerging that Turkey would allow Kurdish Peshmerga forces from Iraq to join the fighting in Kobane.

Running battles continued on Tuesday with exchanges of fire between IS forces in the east of the town and Kurds in the west.

Peshmerga confusion

The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, had suggested on Monday that Kurdish Peshmerga fighters would be allowed to come from Iraq and join in the fight against IS.

     They have not given us any orders to move our units. But we are waiting, and we are ready.
- Halgurd Hekmat, peshmerga spokesman

"We are helping Peshmerga forces to enter into Kobane to give support,” Cavusoglu said at a news conference.

However, Peshmerga spokesman Halgurd Hekmat said that he has yet to receive orders to move units.

"But we are waiting," Hekmat said. "And we are ready."

Kurdish activists in Kobane also said that there had yet been no sign of Peshmerga forces.

In Monday's fighting, IS lost at least five of its fighters in airstrikes, and a further 12 in ground fighting, including two suicide bombers, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based opposition group.

Five Kurdish fighters were also killed.

IS attack Qara Tapah

Despite the focus on Kobane, IS continue to attack towns across Syria and Iraq. The Kurdish-controlled Iraqi town of Qara Tapah was the latest, with 10 people killed by IS, and half of the population reportedly fleeing. IS have also claimed several bombings in Baghdad over the past week. US commanders said that it was Iraq that remains the main focus of their anti-IS activities, after IS took over large swathes of northern and western Iraq in June, including the important city of Mosul.

Residents of Qara Tapah spoke of their fear of an IS takeover.

"We are afraid IS will encircle us and turn this town into a second Amerli," one resident said.

He was referring to a mainly Shia Turkmen town further north which was besieged by IS for two months before government troops backed by militia broke through in late August.