Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Islamic State" Crisis- Peshmerga Fighters- BBC

Islamic State crisis: Peshmerga fighters head to Turkey

Explosion in Kobane, Syria, after air strike by US-led forces (28 October 2014) A US-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes to help defend Kobane
Iraqi Kurdish forces are travelling to Turkey, from where they plan to cross into Syria to battle Islamic State (IS) militants besieging the town of Kobane.

Up to 150 Peshmerga fighters are on the move, with half going by air and half accompanying heavy weapons by road.

Turkey agreed to the deployment last week after refusing to allow Turkish Kurds to cross the border to fight.

Earlier, the Turkish prime minister rejected claims that he was not doing enough to end the jihadists' assault.

"Saving Kobane, retaking Kobane and some area around Kobane from [IS], there's a need for a military operation," Ahmet Davutoglu told the BBC.

Turkey PM Ahmet Davutoglu: 'We will help coalition forces'

But he made clear that Turkey would only take part once the US-led coalition against IS had an "integrated strategy" that included action against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
He also noted that Western states were not prepared to send troops.

"The only way to help Kobane, since other countries don't want to use ground troops, is sending some peace-oriented or moderate troops to Kobane. What are they? Peshmerga... and Free Syrian Army," he added.

Air strikes Military trucks loaded with machine-guns, artillery and fighters left a base north-east of the Iraqi Kurdish capital, Irbil, on Tuesday, according to the AFP news agency.

The agency quoted a Kurdish official as saying that 80 fighters would travel to Turkey by land, with the remainder going by air.

However, a BBC producer in Istanbul said 62 fighters would enter Turkey by road and 68 by air. The convoy of heavy weapons is thought to include anti-tank rockets and missiles.

Convoy of Peshmerga fighters drive through Irbil, Iraq, en route to Turkey (28 October 2014) Turkey agreed last week to allow the Peshmerga to pass through its territory to defend Kobane
Convoy of Peshmerga fighters drive through Irbil, Iraq, en route to Turkey (28 October 2014) The Peshmerga are bringing heavy weapons Syrian Kurdish fighters say are desperately needed
The coffins of Syrian Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) fighters are carried by Kurds in the Turkish town of Suruc (28 October 2014) More than 800 people are believed to have been killed in the six-week battle for Kobane
Earlier reports had indicated that most of the fighters were leaving by air on Tuesday.
Iraqi Kurdish officials had said the Peshmerga would be flown to Silopi in south-eastern Turkey, from where they would travel by land to Kobane.

The Kurdistan Parliament authorised sending 150 Peshmerga to help defend the predominantly Kurdish Syrian town last week. It was unclear why their deployment was delayed.

A Peshmerga commander told CNN that there had been "logistical problems", but there have also been reports of a dispute between the Turkish authorities and the Syrian Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG), which are leading the defence of Kobane.

"There is now no political problem. There is no problem in the way of them crossing," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by the official Anatolia news agency on Tuesday.

The battle for Kobane has emerged as a major test of whether the coalition's air campaign can push back IS.
Map showing frontline in Kobane, 20 October 2014
Weeks of air strikes in and around Kobane have allowed Kurdish fighters to prevent it from falling, but clashes continued on Tuesday and a local YPG commander said IS still controlled 40% of the town.

The US Central Command said it had conducted four strikes there on Tuesday, destroying a small IS unit and four fighting positions.

More than 800 people have been killed since the jihadist group launched an offensive on Kobane six weeks ago. The fighting has also forced more than 200,000 people to flee across the Turkish border.
IS has declared the formation of a caliphate in the large swathes of Syria and Iraq it has seized since 2013.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has told an international conference that millions of Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict have had an "enormous" impact on neighbouring countries.

"Economics, public services, the social fabric of communities and the welfare of families are all affected, not to mention the security impact of the Syrian conflict in the whole region," Antonio Guterres told the meeting in the German capital Berlin.

More than three million Syrians have fled their country since the uprising against President Assad began in March 2011, with most of them now sheltering in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

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