Pesh­marga forces en­ter Kobani

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

A con­voy of Kur­dish Pesh­marga forces from rolled late on Fri­day across the bor­der from Turkey into Syria to help Kur­dish fight­ers de­fend the be­sieged town of Kobani that has be­come the fo­cus of a Western-backed war against Is­lamic State in­sur­gents.

U.S.-led air strikes hit Is­lamic State po­si­tions around Kobani ear­lier in the day in an ap­par­ent ef­fort to pave the way for the heav­ily-armed Kur­dish con­tin­gent to en­ter the city.

The Kur­dish Pesh­marga fight­ers, "those who defy death", had set off cheer­ing and mak­ing vic­tory signs in more than a dozen trucks and jeeps, ac­com­pa­nied by ar­mored ve­hi­cles and ar­tillery. They headed from a hold­ing point around 8 km (5 miles) from the fron­tier to­wards Kobani.

"We have crossed over," one of the Pesh­marga fight­ers in the group said.

The Pesh­marga fight­ers came out cheer­ing "Kobani, Kobani," while honk­ing the horns of their ve­hi­cles and wav­ing their ri­fles in the air. A line of Turk­ish riot po­lice­men stood in front to pre­vent pho­tog­ra­phers from tak­ing pic­tures of the fight­ers as they left.

Ear­lier in the day a Kur­dish of­fi­cial blamed Ankara for the de­lay of the Pesh- marga force de­ploy­ment for days.

The of­fi­cial of Syria's pow­er­ful Kur­dish Demo­cratic Union Party, or PYD, claimed Turk­ish lead­ers had been hop­ing that mil­i­tants from the Is­lamic State group would cap­ture the town be­fore the Iraqi fight­ers en­tered.

"There have been so many de­lays and the Pesh­marga are not to blame. The Turks are be­hind the de­lays," he said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­ity of the mat­ter. He added that the at­tacks by IS on Kobani have in­creased mean­while.

The force con­sists of around 150 but brings heavy and much-needed weapons and am­mu­ni­tion. Their ar­rival would mark the first time Turkey al­lows ground troops from out­side Syria to re­in­force Syr­ian Kurds, who have been de­fend­ing Kobani for more than 40 days.

As the Pesh­marga headed to­wards the bor­der, a loud blast was heard in the Kobani area, the lat­est in a rapid se­ries of ex­plo­sions, in an ap­par­ent in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of the fight­ing.

De­spite hav­ing limited strate­gic sig­nif­i­cance, Kobani has be­come a pow­er­ful in­ter­na­tional sym­bol in the bat­tle against the hard line Sunni Mus­lim in­sur­gents who have cap­tured large swaths of Iraq and Syria and de­clared an Is­lamic "caliphate".

The Kobani bat­tle has raged in full view of the Turk­ish fron­tier, test­ing whether a U. S. -led coali­tion can halt the Is­lamic State's ad­vance. The fail­ure of Turkey to help de­fend the town sparked ri­ots among Kurds in Turkey in which 40 peo­ple died.

Ear­lier on Fri­day, ma­chine gun fire could be heard from the Turk­ish side of the bor­der as Is­lamic State fight­ers pounded the area near where the Pesh­marga were ex­pected to cross.

Crowds of Kurds cheer as a con­voy of pesh­merga ve­hi­cles ar­rives in Kur­dish ar­eas in Turkey.

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