More fighters arriving in Kobani to battle ISIS terrorists - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

More fighters arriving in Kobani to battle ISIS terrorists

Iraqi Peshmerga fighters are applauded as they make their way toward Kobani. (Source: CNN) Iraqi Peshmerga fighters are applauded as they make their way toward Kobani. (Source: CNN)
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SILOPI, TURKEY (CNN) - Two convoys of Iraqi Peshmerga fighters are heading to the Syrian border town of Kobani to help in the fight with ISIS.

Rebel fighters from Syria have entered the city with mortars and heavy machine guns.

A rebel commander says that more fighters can be sent in if needed.

About 200 Syrian rebels entered the besieged city of Kobani, a Syrian rebel commander said.

Col. Abdul Jabar Okaidi spoke to CNN by phone from inside Kobani, a Syrian border city.

Okaidi said the rebels are using weapons from the Free Syrian Army supplies, but did not disclose which brigades offered the weapons or assisted.

This is the first group to enter, and more fighters will come in if required, he said.

"Today, 200 is enough," he said. "But we can send more today if needed."

He said the first group was welcomed by the Kurdish fighters in Kobani and have a joint control room. There were heavy clashes and mortars near the Kobani official border crossing when they entered.

Separately, a Kurdish fighter inside Kobani said a force of 35 Syrian rebels had entered at dawn with Okaidi.

The Iraq Peshmerga had not yet crossed into Kobani after a contingent arrived by air from Erbil and landed in Urfa in the early hours Wednesday, Turkey's Anadolu news agency said.

They were driven in six minibuses toward the border, Anadolu reported, while a separate convoy crossed into Turkey carrying weapons for the Iraqi Kurds.

Kurdish fighters from Iraq will enter Kobani soon to reinforce fellow Kurds who are defending against ISIS, a Peshmerga general told CNN on Tuesday.

"The Peshmerga have been ready for a few days, then had logistical problems, but they no longer do," Brig. Gen. Halgurd Hikmat said of the Iraqi Kurdish forces.

He added that "we now have an agreement with Turkey on this."

The fighters were en route Tuesday, a Ministry of Peshmerga official,  who wouldn't give his name because of operational security reasons,  told CNN.

Earlier, the official with the Ministry of Peshmerga - effectively the defense ministry for the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq - said 161 Peshmerga fighters were making the trip.

The troops have weapons "that will be of good help to our brothers in Kobani," the official said.

A senior adviser to Kurdish President Masoud Barzani tweeted on Wednesday that the fighters would eat breakfast in Kobani with Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The Peshmerga militia generally defends the Kurdish region in northern Iraq and has battled ISIS in that nation.

Turkish officials were not immediately available to comment. But Turkey has previously said it will allow the Peshmerga to pass through its territory into Syria to join the fight for Kobani, which lies on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Kobani, known in Arabic as Ayan al-Arab, is a largely Kurdish town defended by a Kurdish-Syrian militia.

With ISIS controlling the Syrian land surrounding Kobani, the Peshmerga's easiest path into Kobani is through Turkey.

ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, captured portions of Syria and Iraq this year in its bid to establish what it says is an independent Islamic nation. ISIS began attacking Kobani in September.

The Ministry of Peshmerga official also said Tuesday that the Peshmerga would be in Kobani on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

Major shift for Turkey

Turkey's decision to let the Peshmerga traverse Turkish territory to reinforce the Kurdish fighters in Kobani represented a major policy shift.

The Syrian Kurdish fighters, part of the People's Protection Units, or YPG, have ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has fought a 30-year guerrilla war against the government of Turkey, where about 20 percent of the population is Kurd.

Turkey, the European Union and United States consider the PKK a terrorist organization.

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said both the Syrian Kurdish and ISIS militants were "terrorists." The Turkish government also has bristled at the United States' efforts to parachute weapons, ammunition and medicine to YPG fighters.

But while Turkey did nothing to intervene in Kobani, Kurds protested in Turkish streets. More than 30 people were killed in cities around Turkey this month as ethnic Kurds clashed with Islamist and nationalist groups as well as Turkish police.

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