human rights watch

lördag 25 oktober 2014

Kurdish president’s brother to lead Kobane relief force.

Kurdish president’s brother to lead Kobane relief force.
One hundred and fifty Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, the first detachment of a force that could rise to over 1,000 soldiers, will head to the besieged Syrian border town of Kobane on Sunday, according to Peshmerga officials. 

The initial force will be led by Sihad Barzani, the commander of the region’s artillery brigade and brother of the Kurdistan Regional Governnment’s (KRG) President Massoud Barzani, according to a KRG official.

They will be the first foreign troops to provide aid to the town’s Syrian Kurdish defenders, who have been holding off assaults by Islamic State fighters for more than a month with the help of US and allied air strikes.

“This support force will speed up the fight of the Kobane Kurds,” Brigadier Ramazan of the 2nd infantry brigade told Rudaw.

The KRG has said the soldiers will operate heavy weapons to provide cover for Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have held off ISIS forces with little more than Kalashnikovs since mid-September.

They also confirmed that promises were made to Turkey and the United States that Peshmerga would not hand over heavy weapons to local fighters, nor would they remain in Syria beyond a fixed period of time.

“Our enemies in Kobane are using heavy weapons and we should have heavy weapons too,” Ramazan said.

A high-ranking KRG source told Rudaw that members of the contingent were packed and ready to move through Turkey “without a passport and they need only their military IDs.”

He said that an additional 1,000 troops would be sent to Kobane next week, but this has not been publically confirmed by the KRG, Turkey, or PYD officials.

Peshmerga sources said that the names of the soldiers, as well as a detailed list of their weapons, have been provided to Turkey and the United States. They will be moving through Turkey to reach Kobane, which abuts the Turkish border.

On Thursday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an agreement had been reached with the YPG’s Democratic Unity Party (PYD), the main Kurdish faction in northern Syria, to send 200 Peshmerga.

“The PYD had agreed on a group of Peshmerga of up to 200-300 people. According to information I have just received, this figure has now reduced to 150,” Erdogan said on live television during a visit to Estonia.

He also confirmed several media reports the FSA, a loose group of anti-Islamist rebels backed by Turkey, the West and the Arab World, had agreed to send 1,300 of its men to fight alongside the Kurds in Kobane and that Ankara was also happy to let them cross through Turkish territory. This was subsequently denied by the PYD.

The original plan to send Peshmerga to aid fellow Kurds in Syria was proposed by Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Region more than two weeks ago in a series of secret meetings between the KRG, Turkey, the United States, and Syrian Kurdish parties.

The Kurdish parliament in Erbil approved unanimously on Wednesday sending Peshmerga to Kobane, and President Barzani signed the parliamentary decree on Thursday.

"We are getting ready to head to Kobane tomorrow,” one of the two officers of the 150 man force, Ahmad Gardi, told Rudaw on Saturday. “The forces going to Kobane will be coordinated. It includes two forces: the first belongs to the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP], and the second belongs to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK]".

Gardi is an officer from a KDP division. A KRG official confirmed that it was “very likely” both KDP and PUK will be part of the force.

Although several divisions of the Iraqi Kurdish forces are under the direct command of the Ministry of Peshmerga, the majority are divided between the KDP and PUK, the two largest political parties in the Kurdistan Region.

Meanwhile Turkish military personnel have moved camera teams away from the border on Saturday, citing the risk of shelling by ISIS forces. Daily coverage of the conflict has led to mounting pressure for Turkish military action. /,,,,,,,,,,//

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