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Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga Fighters Deploying To Kobani

A female Kurdish refugee tries to call relatives who are still trapped in Kobani as thick smoke rises from the Syrian town during heavy fighting between Islamic State militants and Kurdish peshmerga forces on October 27.

Some 150 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters from northern Iraq traveled to Turkey on October 28 on their way to help Syrian Kurdish defenders of besieged town of Kobani battle militants from the radical Islamic State group.

Roughly half of the peshmerga traveled by air, with the other half accompanying heavy weapons by road.

Trucks loaded with weapons were seen departing from a base northeast of the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital, Irbil.

A Kurdish military official said more than three dozen vehicles carrying 80 fighters, machine guns, and artillery were to travel overland.

The convoy included two towed artillery pieces and a number of covered trucks, some of them carrying rocket launchers.

The official said another 72 peshmerga fighters were to fly to Turkey early on October 29.

Last week, Iraq’s Kurdish regional government authorized the deployment of 150 Peshmerga fighters to reinforce Kobani.

The move came after Ankara agreed to allow the Peshmerga cross into Syria via Turkey. However, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reiterated that his country would not be sending any ground forces of its own to Kobani.

Davutoglu told the BBC that sending the Peshmerga was "the only way to help Kobani, since other countries don't want to use ground troops."

Syrian Kurds in Kobani have been holding out against an IS assault for weeks, turning the border town into a symbol in the international battle against the heavily armed radical group.

But Turkey views the Syrian Kurds defending Kobani as loyal to what Ankara regards 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 United States and NATO.

Pressed by the West and its own Kurdish minority to take more consistent action against the IS militants, the Turkish government is only allowing the passage of the Peshmerga forces from Iraq, with whom it has a good relationship, and not those from the PKK.

The fighting continued October 28, with black smoke rising over Kobani as the jihadists set alight tires in a bid to prevent air strikes.

The U.S. military said four more raids had hit IS near Kobane on October 27 and 28, along with nine strikes on the group in Iraq.

The Islamic State group seized large parts of Syria and Iraq this summer, declaring an Islamic "caliphate" and committing large-scale atrocities.

U.S. Airdrops In Eastern Iraq

The Pentagon meanwhile said U.S. planes had parachuted aid to a beleaguered Sunni tribe in Iraq's western Anbar province, where Iraqi government forces remain in a tenuous position against IS jihadists.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters on October 28 that C-130 aircraft carried out an airdrop of food earlier this week near the Asad air base October at the request of the Baghdad government.

Kirby said the food was retrieved by Iraqi forces and then delivered to the Albu Nimr tribe, which had been forced by the IS to flee homes near the city of Heet.

The tribe numbered in the thousands, defense officials said.

Ferrying in humanitarian aid by air to Anbar province underscored the Iraqi government's difficulties in the west and suggested Baghdad troops were not able to move safely over roads in the area.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP