150 Peshmerga fighters to join Kobani battle within days

The Kurdish regional government in Iraq plans to send some 150 peshmerga fighters to Kobani through Turkey over the next few days to support Syrian Kurds there defending against ISIL militants.

Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff for Kurdish regional president Massoud Barzani, said the fighters would take light weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, and would bring their weapons back with them once the operation was over.

“The fight in Kobani is very important to us,” he said on Thurday, a day after parliament in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region authorised the deployment of peshmerga forces to the northern Syrian border town.

“We are fighting the same enemy. These are also Kurdish people in Syria.”

Syrian Kurds in Kobani have held out against ISIL for weeks with the help of US-led airstrikes and air drops of weapons.

Activists said on Thursday that the airstrikes in Syria had so far killed more than 500 people, mainly Islamic militants.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said 553 people had been killed since the airstrikes began on September 23, including 32 civilians. The civilians included six children and five women.

The group said it had documented the deaths of 464 ISIL fighters, but the real number could be much higher. Another 57 fighters with the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front were killed in airstrikes on the northern provinces of Aleppo and Idlib, the Observatory said.

The US military central command said on Thursday that 15 airstrikes were carried out in Iraq and Syria since Wednesday.

Four strikes destroyed an ISIL control centre and fighting positions in an area near Kobani that has often been targeted this month, and two more that knocked out oil tanks east of Deir Ezzor.

Airstrikes in Iraq near the vital Mosul Dam hit small ISIL units and destroyed a vehicle while another attack near Baiji took out a fighting position. Four strikes in the Fallujah area targeted a training facility, a larger ISIL unit and a building.

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