Peshmerga to avoid direct conflict in Kobane
Iraqi Kurdish forces will not engage in direct combat in the Syrian town of Kobane but will provide artillery support to fellow Kurds fending off Islamic State militants there, Kurdistan Regional Government spokesman Safeen Dizayee told Reuters.
The announcement comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of neighbouring Turkey said that the main Kurdish party in Syria – whose armed wing is defending Kobane on the ground with the aid of U.S. coalition-led airstrikes – “does not want” Kurdish Peshmerga fighters from Iraq to come to help it fight ISIS in Kobane.
Erdogan told Turkish reporters aboard his presidential plane that the Syrian Kurdish party the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has been leading the defence of Kobane, feared losing its influence in northern Syria when the Peshmerga arrive.
He also called the PYD a “terror” organization, highlighting Turkey’s wary stance towards Kurdish groups demanding an autonomous Kurdish state straddling the border with Turkey, Agence France-Presse reported.
“The PYD does not want the Peshmerga to come… to Kobane and dominate it,” Erdogan said in comments published by newspapers including the Milliyet and Hurriyet dailies.
“The PYD thinks its game will be spoilt if the Peshmerga come. Their set-up will be ruined,” he said.
Turkey last week unexpectedly announced that it will allow Peshmerga fighters from the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq to cross its territory to join the fight for Kobane.
Also on Sunday, the Chief of Staff to the president of Iraqi Kurdistan also said the region’s Peshmerga forces were ready to depart for Kobane via Turkey as soon as a timetable had been finalized with Turkey and Kurds in Syria.
Meanwhile, U.S. military forces conducted five air strikes against ISIS targets around Kobane, with the help of partner nations – and another 12 separate strikes in Iraq, the U.S. Central Command said on Sunday.