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Iraqi Peshmerga set to join Kobane battle

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Dozens of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are preparing to leave Iraq for the besieged Syrian town of Kobane to help fellow Kurds in their battle against the ISIL.

Kurdish official in the city of Erbil told Al Jazeera that more than 150 people were ready to depart and that a plane was being loaded with light weapons on Tuesday afternoon.

Supplies of heavy weapons were expected to be transported by road to Turkey later at night, the officials said.

Syrian Kurds have battled fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in and around Kobane since mid-September. Despite US-led air strikes supporting the Kurds, ISIL has kept up its assault.

Last week, the local Iraqi Kurdish government authorised about 150 Peshmerga to go to Syria to fight.

Turkey has been reluctant to join the US-led coalition against ISIL. But after pressure from its Western allies, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last Wednesday that some Peshmerga fighters from Iraq would be allowed to transit through Turkey to Kobane.

Halgord Hekmat, the spokesman of the Kurdish ministry responsible for the Peshmerga, has said the fighters are “support forces” and will be armed with automatic weapons, mortars and rocket launchers.

The deployment is open-ended, with minister Mustafa Qader saying that: “They will remain there until they are no longer needed.”

ISIL has captured dozens of Kurdish villages around Kobane and now also control parts of the town. The battles have killed more than 800 people, according to activists, and sent more than 200,000 people fleeing into Turkey.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the US-led coalition carried out three air strikes on Kobane on Tuesday, targeting a gathering of ISIL fighters.

The US Central Command said more air strikes were launched in Syria and Iraq on Monday and Tuesday.

In Syria, four air strikes near Kobane destroyed four ISIL fighting positions and a small ISIL unit, a US statement said.

ISIL has taken over large expanses of land in Iraq and Syria and been accused of grave atrocities in both countries. Al Jazeera


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