The Turkish president has said he is expecting 200 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters will head from Iraq to the besieged Syrian town of Kobane through Turkey after authorities agreed their passage.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that he had learned of the agreement to send the fighters, while Kurdish authorities in Iraq said preparations were ongoing for the deployment.
“I have learned that they finally reached agreement on a figure of 200,” he said during a visit to Latvia.
A senior Iraqi Kurdish official was meanwhile quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that the fighters would be equipped with heavier weapons than those being used by fighters already in Kobane.
The Peshmerga fighters are being sent to Kobane to fight ISIL, which has for weeks pressed an offensive to capture the town in the face of an intense, US-led bombing campaign.
US central command said it launched four attacks on Kobane over Wednesday and Thursday, destroying ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL command and control centre. It also attacked ISIL oil-holding tanks East of Deir Ezzor.
Turkey early this week agreed to allow them to transit through its territory and cross the border into Syria to defend the town. The parliament of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday approved sending its fighters.
The US on Monday also dropped 21 tonnes of supplies provided by Iraqi Kurds to fighters already inside Kobane,.
However, the Turkish president on Thursday renewed criticism of the US airdrop, describing the main Kurdish force already defending the town as a “terrorist” group. “Did Turkey view this business positively? No it didn’t,” he said.
The Kurds fighting in Kobane include forces affiliated with Syria’s Democratic Union Party, known by its Kurdish acronym PYD. Turkey opposes arming PYD because it is allied with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey since 1984 in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands. Al Jazeera