Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Iraqi Peshmerga Fighters Head for Syria Islamic State Video Mocks Kurdish Forces

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Iraqi Peshmerga Fighters Head for Syria Islamic State Video Mocks Kurdish Forces

Article excerpt

MURSITPINAR, Turkey - Iraqi peshmerga fighters headed Tuesday for the Syrian town of Kobani to help fellow Kurds repel an Islamic State advance that has defied U.S.-led air strikes and become an important test of the coalition's ability to combat the Sunni insurgents.

Kobani, nestled on the border with Turkey, has been besieged by Islamic State for more than a month. Weeks of air strikes on the insurgents' positions and the deaths of hundreds of their fighters have failed to break the siege.

Islamic State has caused international alarm by capturing large expanses of Iraq and Syria, declaring an Islamic "caliphate" erasing borders between the two and slaughtering or driving away Shiite Muslims, Christians and other communities who do not share their ultra-radical brand of Sunni Islam.

U.S. forces staged four air strikes Tuesday on the Islamic State militants in Syria, and allies joined in nine strikes on the group in Iraq, the U.S. Central Command reported. In Syria, U.S. attack and fighter aircraft went after targets near Kobani, destroying a small Islamic State unit and four fighting positions. In Iraq, U.S. and allied attack, fighter and remotely controlled aircraft again targeted the Mosul Dam area with four strikes, taking out a small fighting unit, a fighting position, vehicle and logistics base. Two strikes near Fallujah destroyed a small Islamic State unit and tank. Other strikes were staged west of Baghdad, near Sinjar and northwest of Haditha.

The Islamic State has threatened to massacre Kobani's defenders in an assault that has sent almost 200,000 Syrian Kurds fleeing to Turkey, and triggered a call to arms from Kurds across the region.

A British hostage of the Islamic State has been shown in a video, apparently made in Kobani, depicting him as a combat correspondent and forecasting that the town is about to fall to militants, despite the waves of U.S. airstrikes. The video, about 5 1/2 minutes long, suggests a further evolution in the militants' command of media technology to promote their cause, using techniques of 24-hour news channel journalism to counter the West's accounts of what is happening in Kobani. …

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