Iraqi peshmerga fighters in Kobane, prepare for ISIL battle

Iraqi peshmerga fighters in Kobane, prepare for ISIL battle

ŞANLIURFA – The Associated Press
Iraqi peshmerga fighters in Kobane, prepare for ISIL battle

Turkish riot policemen lift their shields to block the view of journalists as a convoy of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga leaves a compound at the border town of Suruç in the provience of Şanlıurfa. Reuters photo

Iraqi peshmerga fighters prepared Nov. 1 to battle Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in the Syrian border town of Kobane, just hours after they arrived in a town that has become a focal point in the battle against the extremists.

The force brought in heavy weapons including artillery, heavy machine guns and anti-tank missiles, material that could tip the balance of power in favor of the embattled Kurds fighting there.

Shorsh Hassan, a spokesman for the People's Protection Units (YPG) said the peshmerga and the YPG are preparing a role for Iraqi Kurdish troops. Hassan's comments came after some 150 peshmerga fighters at night on Oct. 31 entered Kobane to fight the extremist group that controls parts of the town.

"The priority will be to recapture Kobane neighborhoods that were taken by Daesh and then the goal is to liberate all villages in the countryside of Kobani," Hassan said by telephone from Kobane, using an Arabic acronym to refer to the ISIL group.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Nov. 1 that the peshmerga force had yet to take part in any battles in Kobane.

Since mid-September, ISIL fighters have captured dozens of predominantly Kurdish villages near Kobane and entered the town they have been trying to capture for weeks. 

More than 200,000 people have fled to Turkey and more than 800 people have died, activists say.

ISIL group positions in Kobane also have been targeted by more than 150 airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition over the past weeks.

The Observatory said the ISIL group launched another offensive at night onOct. 31 on YPG-held areas in Kobane but failed to advance. The group, which relies on reports from activists on the ground in Syria, said that more than 100 jihadi fighters have been killed over the past three days in the clashes, as well as the 
U.S.-led airstrikes.

An Associated Press reporter on the Turkish side of the border facing Kobane said it sounded like several explosions struck the town early Nov. 1, though no more information about them was immediately available.

The U.S. Central Command said Oct. 31 that American warplanes conducted four airstrikes near Kobane, damaging four ISIL fighting positions and one building occupied by the group.