Peshmerga Bound for Kobane Arrive in Turkey

Peshmerga Bound for Kobane Arrive in TurkeyPeshmerga Bound for Kobane Arrive in Turkey

A group of 150 Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters arrived in Turkey on Wednesday, from where they plan to cross into Syria to battle IS militants besieging the town of Kobane.

One contingent flew from Iraq to a south-eastern Turkish airport.

Another contingent, carrying weapons including artillery, was travelling separately by land through Turkey, the BBC reported.

Turkey agreed to the deployment last week after refusing to allow Turkish Kurds to cross the border to fight.

Thousands of cheering, flag-waving supporters gathered to see off the Kurds as they left the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil by plane.

The first batch of Peshmerga forces landed early on Wednesday at Sanliurfa airport in south-eastern Turkey, according to the AP news agency.

They are then reported to have left the airport in buses escorted by Turkish security forces and were expected to get to Kobane through the Mursitpinar border crossing.

The Kurdistan Parliament authorized sending 150 Peshmerga to help defend the predominantly Kurdish Syrian town last week. It was unclear why their deployment was delayed.

The Kurdish population in both Iraq and Syria is under significant threat because of the rapid advance by IS.

The battle for Kobane has emerged as a major test of whether the US-led coalition’s air campaign can push back IS.

Weeks of air strikes in and around Kobane have allowed Kurdish fighters to prevent it from falling, but clashes continued on Tuesday and a local Kurdish commander said IS still controlled 40% of the town.

More than 800 people have been killed since the mlitant group launched an offensive on Kobane six weeks ago.

The fighting has also forced more than 200,000 people to flee across the Turkish border.