Kurdish forces from Iraq were on their way to Syria’s border town of Kobani Tuesday to fight with Syria Kurdish People’ Protection Forces (YPG) against Islamic State group militants. This is the 43rd day Kurdish forces have been battling militants, who have seized hundreds of surrounding villages and hope to consolidate territory from their Syrian headquarters in Raqqa to the Turkish border.
The decision "has been a long debate,” Peshmerga spokesman Halgurd Hekmat told CNN Turk. “But the peshmerga will go in two ways. Both land both from the air.” He added that initial reports that said the peshmerga would only be in Kobani to provide logistical support were not true, they will be fighting ISIS militants.
"The only way to help Kobani since other countries don't want to use ground troops, is sending some peace oriented or moderate troops to Kobani,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the BBC Tuesday. “What are they? Peshmerga ... and Free Syrian Army (Syrian opposition forces)."
Turkey has not officially allowed its own Kurdish population, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to join the fight in Kobani, despite their affiliation with the YPG’s political branch the Kurdish Democratic Union party (PYD). The PKK is considered a terrorist organization in both Turkey and the United States.
The decision to send peshmerga reinforcements came a day after ISIS released a video purporting to show kidnapped British journalist John Cantlie “reporting” from Kobani. Cantlie appeared to be reading from a script when he said that ISIS was not in retreat from Kobani, despite Western media reports.
The YPG also released a statement Monday denying that Kobani had fallen to militants. “It has been confirmed that 17 terrorists were killed yesterday on the eastern front, whereas number of weapons were captured by our forces,” according to the statement. “In the last 24 hours five of our comrades selflessly sacrificed their lives, fought heroically and were martyred in action.”
— YPG Defense Units (@DefenseUnits) October 27, 2014
Around 800 people have died in Kobani since the fighting began over a month ago, according to Reuters. While YPG forces battle ISIS militants on the ground, the United States-led coalition has bombed over 150 ISIS target in and around the border city. The U.S. State Department said that airstrikes have helped push back militants but the fight in Kobani is not yet won.
"Saving Kobani, retaking Kobani and some area around Kobani from ISIS, there's a need for a military operation," said Davutoglu.