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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Kurds Welcome Turkish Approval of Reinforcements for Kobani

by Jamie Dettmer October 20, 2014

Kurds are welcoming the Turkish government's decision to allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to transit Turkey to reinforce the defenders of the Syrian border town of Kobani. The United States and some European nations pushed Turkey to help the town besieged by the Islamic State militants.

There is a sense here among Turkish Kurds and refugees from the Syrian border town of Kobani that the odds are shifting in favor of the defenders and that the siege mounted by Islamic militants will fail.

There have been several boosts for the Kurdish defense forces of Kobani: U.S. airstrikes over the past week have taken their toll on fighters from the so-called Islamic State, and an airdrop of desperately needed arms and ammunition has boosted morale.

The Turkish government's announcement Monday that it will allow Peshmerga fighters from neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan to transit Turkey and reinforce the defenders of Kobani boosted morale even more. Kurds along the border were not bothered by the fact that the Iraqi Peshmerga are controlled by an ideological rival to the dominant Kurdish party in Syria, the Democratic Union Party, or PYD.

Adar, from the nearby town of Urfa, has been traveling the 35 kilometers to watch the battle for Kobani for the past four weeks. He says it doesn't matter where the Kurds come from - it will be good for all Kurds. He added the defense of Kobani unites all Kurds regardless of their ideology or political affiliations.

U.S. airstrikes against the jihadists increased in tempo a week ago and has pushed the Islamic militants back on the west of Kobani. But the fight is still on for the east and south, say Kurdish commanders VOA contacted by phone and Skype.

At nightfall Monday the fighting was fierce with the militants launching mortar and rocket attacks.

Inside Kobani the plight of the wounded - fighters and civilians - remains appalling. The dozen or so doctors and nurses attending the wounded treat patients in desperate conditions. The main hospital was destroyed in a militant rocket attack 10 days ago. The most badly wounded are transferred to Turkey but there are delays at the border.

Dr. Kurdo Abdi, a 56-year-old trauma doctor, has been treating the wounded for a month but Sunday night he crossed into Turkey because his own heart condition had worsened. He says they have few medical supplies and are working in makeshift clinics in apartments and homes dotted around the besieged town. Volunteers assist the medical professionals but the situation is bad, he says.

Abdi says the transfer of the wounded to Turkey is fraught with peril. It sometimes involves navigating around a minefield depending on the route they take, and at any time Islamic militants can open fire on them.

A Turkish ambulance driver - one of several tasked with picking up the Kurdish wounded - told VOA that he had come under fire.

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