ERBIL // Lawmakers in Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdish region voted Wednesday to authorise sending fighters to help defend the embattled town of Kobani in Syria, where fellow Kurds are facing an ISIL onslaught.
Kurdish officials said an unspecified number of fighters would be sent through Turkey to support their ethnic brethren in a battle playing out just across the Turkish border. The fight has grabbed the world’s attention and triggered sympathy for the outgunned Kurds.
Anwar Muslim, a Kobani-based senior Kurdish official, praised the decision, saying “all help is welcome.” He said there seemed to be a solidifying international push to help Kobani combat the militants.
The US conducted further 12 air strikes against ISIL on Tuesday and Wednesday, targeting the militant group near Iraq’s Mosul Dam Kobani, according to US Central Command.
As details of the deployment were being worked out, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the United States made a mistake in airdropping weapons to Kurdish fighters in Kobani earlier this week because some of the weapons ended up with ISIL.
“It turns out that what was done was wrong,” he said.
Activists said Tuesday that ISIL militants seized a small part of the airdrop.
The vote by Kurdish lawmakers comes two days after Turkey said it would help Iraqi Kurdish fighters cross into Syria to support their brethren defending the town. Turkey in recent years has built friendly ties with the leadership of the largely autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region.
Still, it was unprecedented for Turkey to promise to give Kurds passage to fight in Syria.
Ankara views the main Syrian Kurdish military force fighting ISIL — the People’s Protection Units, or YPG — as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). That group has waged a 30-year insurgency in Turkey and is designated a terrorist group by the US and Europe.
Peshmerga spokesman Halgurd Hekmat in Erbil said Wednesday there is still a lot of uncertainty on the details of the deployment, including how many forces will be sent and when.
“We’re sending the peshmerga, not to become YPG but to fight alongside the YPG,” Hekmat said. “We will send the peshmerga to do their job for as long as they’re needed and to come back after that.”
* Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters
Updated: October 22, 2014 04:00 AM