Turkey To Allow 200 Peshmerga Fighters Passage To Kobani
October 23, 2014
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says some 200 Iraqi Kurd Peshmerga forces will be allowed to transit Turkey to help Syrian Kurds fight against Islamic State (IS) militants in the besieged town of Kobani.
Erdogan said in Latvia on October 23 that the Syrian Kurdish group, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), had agreed to the action.
There are some 2,000 PYD-led fighters battling IS attackers in Kobani, which is on the Turkish border.
The parliament of Iraq's Kurdish region approved on October 22 the sending of Peshmerga forces to Syria to prevent Kobani from falling to the IS group.
General Jabbar Yawar, secretary-general of the Peshmerga Ministry in Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq on October 23 that the Kurdish fighters heading to Syria would be taking 'semi-heavy weapons' with them to Kobani.
Meanwhile, Syrian activists say air strikes by U.S.-led forces have killed 521 Islamist fighters and 32 civilians during a monthlong campaign in Syria.
It said it had documented that deaths of 464 IS fighters and 57 Al-Nusra Front members by air strikes, although it said the real number of deaths could be much higher.
Most of the IS deaths had taken place in or near Kobani, where the U.S. Central Command said it has conducted nearly 150 air strikes against IS positions.
Along with killing hundreds of IS fighters, the U.S. military said it had destroyed 'scores' of pieces of military equipment.
But the Islamist fighters have captured dozens of surrounding villages populated largely by Kurds, forcing an estimated 200,000 people from the region to flee the IS advance and seek refuge in Turkey.
Idris Nasan, a self-styled deputy governor for foreign affairs in a self-declared Kurdish administration in the Kobani region, said on October 23 that Kobani 'has been witnessing fierce clashes since last night.'
Meanwhile, Syrian Kurdish factions have signed a power-sharing agreement in order to unite in their battle against IS fighters.
The October 23 agreement came after nine days of talks in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil and creates a new administrative body that is to make unified decisions for Syrian Kurds and will eventually create a parliament.
The PYD's main political rival in Syria is the Kurdish National Council.
Some Western countries don't want to give aid to Syria's Kurds due to the PYD's ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey, and the Europe Union.
The new Syrian-Kurd pact is seen as giving greater legitimacy to the PYD.
The agreement is the third such deal among Syrian Kurds, the previous two having fallen apart after the PYD was accused of trying to monopolize power and of cooperating with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
With reporting by Reuters and AFP
Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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