Peshmerga fighters 'heavily shelling' ISIL in Kobane: Commander

Peshmerga fighters 'heavily shelling' ISIL in Kobane: Commander

ARBIL - Agence France-Presse
Peshmerga fighters heavily shelling ISIL in Kobane: Commander

Smoke rises above from Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane as seen from the Turkish border town of Suruç, in Şanlıurfa province, on Nov. 2. AFP Photo

Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters who joined the battle for the Syrian border town of Kobane have been heavily shelling the positions of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, a commander told AFP.

Speaking to AFP by telephone from inside Kobane, the commander said the peshmerga were manning artillery in support of local Syrian Kurdish militia fighters, who have been battling the jihadists for nearly seven weeks.

"We are 150 well-trained peshmerga and we are here only to provide support," said the commander, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We have been heavily shelling ISIL positions in Kobane, which has helped the (Syrian Kurdish) People's Protection Units (YPG)," the commander said.        

The peshmerga crossed the Turkish border into Kobane at the weekend after travelling across Turkey from Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdish region.        

ISIL has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq and the Iraqi Kurds have been a key fighting force in preventing the group's further advance in Iraq.

"We have fought ISIL in Iraq. There is no difference at all between the jihadists we fought in Iraq and those we are fighting in Kobane. They use the same weapons," said the commander.

Up to 4,000 jihadists are fighting some 1,500 to 2,000 members of the YPG in Kobane, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

The town has become a highly visible symbol of the international campaign against the jihadist group.

"Since our arrival, ISIL has tried to advance... but it has failed because we pushed them back," the commander said, adding that the Kurds had killed "a large number" of jihadists since Oct. 31.

"Our morale is very high and we are convinced we will expel (the jihadists) from Kobane. We have a strategy to achieve this goal," the commander said.