(Reuters) – A convoy of Iraqi Kurdish forces in Turkey rolled late on Friday across the border into Syria to help Syrian Kurds defend the besieged town of Kobani that has become the focus of a Western-backed war against Islamic State insurgents.
U.S.-led air strikes hit Islamic State positions around Kobani earlier in the day in an apparent effort to pave the way for the heavily-armed Kurdish contingent to enter.
The Iraqi Kurdish fighters, known as peshmerga or “those who defy death”, had set off cheering and making victory signs in more than a dozen trucks and jeeps, accompanied by armored vehicles and artillery. They headed from a holding point around 8 km (5 miles) from the frontier towards Kobani.
“We have crossed over,” one of the peshmerga fighters in the group subsequently told Reuters by telephone.