Iraqi Kurdish Forces Enter Syria to Fight ISIL
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A first group of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters entered the besieged Syrian town of Kobane to help push back ISIL militants who have defied US air strikes and threatened to massacre its Kurdish defenders.
Kobane, on the border with Turkey, has been encircled by the insurgents for more than 40 days. Weeks of US-led air strikes have failed to break their stranglehold, and Kurds are hoping the arrival of the peshmerga will turn the tide.
The siege of Kobane -- known in Arabic as Ayn al-Arab -- has become a test of the US-led coalition's ability to stop ISIL's advance, and Washington has welcomed the peshmerga's deployment. It has intensified its air strikes in the past two days ahead of their arrival.
A first contingent of about 10 peshmerga fighters arrived in Kobane from Turkey to prepare the way for a convoy equipped with heavy weapons, but gunfire and shelling by ISIL fighters on the border area appeared to be causing delays.
"ISIL has intensified its attacks on the border gate after the news of the peshmerga's arrival ... and the clashes have been fierce," Idris Nassan, deputy foreign minister of Kobane district, told Reuters by telephone from Kobane.
The peshmerga fighters already in Kobane were trying to secure safe passage for the weapons convoy and the Turkish authorities, fearing a spillover onto Turkish soil, also wanted them to wait until the security situation was clearer, he said.
"With the ISIL shelling and the clashes, the whole process is taking time," Nassan said.
Hemin Hawrami, a senior official in the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Iraq, wrote on Twitter that the peshmerga already in Kobane were assessing where the heavy weapons would be deployed, Reuters reported.
Around 100 peshmerga fighters arrived by plane in southeastern Turkey on Wednesday, joined later that night by a land convoy of vehicles carrying arms including a cannon and truck-mounted machine guns.