Dozens of Kurdish peshmerga fighters left a base in northern Iraq on Tuesday headed for the battleground Syrian town of Kobani, an AFP journalist reported.
The town on the Turkish border has become a crucial front in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group, which overran large parts of Iraq in June and also holds significant territory in Syria.
The AFP journalist saw dozens of military trucks leaving the base northeast of Kurdish regional capital Irbil from which officers said fighters bound for Kobani would depart.
Earlier, the fighters loaded machine guns and mortars into the trucks and packed bags for the trip.
“Forty vehicles carrying machine guns and weapons and artillery with 80 of the peshmerga forces will head to Dohuk (province) and then cross the border today,” a Kurdish officer told AFP.
A further 72 will fly to Turkey early on Wednesday, the officer said.
Halgord Hekmat, the spokesman of the Kurdish ministry responsible for the peshmerga, has said the fighters are “support forces” and will be armed with automatic weapons, mortars and rocket launchers.
The deployment is open-ended, with peshmerga minister Mustafa Qader saying that: “They will remain there until they are no longer needed.”
But the Iraqi premier and other senior federal officials have been publicly silent on the issue, indicating their at least tacit acceptance of the deployment.
Lawmaker Samira Al-Mussawi, a member of the national Parliament’s foreign relations committee, said it is “illegal and unconstitutional.”
And MP Alia Nsayif said in an e-mail that the deployment violates several articles of Iraq’s constitution. But a Kurdish member of Parliament defended the deployment as justified.
Source : Agencies