* Islamic State kills tribesmen at will in Iraq (Adds new U.S. air strikes, Kobani fighting, Iraq tribe)
By Mariam Karouny and Omer Berberoglu
Turkey, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Iraqi Kurdish fighters have joined the fight
against Islamic State militants in Kobani, hoping their support for
fellow Kurds backed by U.S.-led air strikes will keep the
ultra-hardline group from seizing the Syrian border town.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the civil war,
said heavy clashes erupted in Kobani and that both sides had suffered
casualties, while the U.S. military said it had launched more air raids
on Islamic State over the weekend.
Nassan, deputy minister for foreign affairs in Kobani district, said
Iraqi Kurds using long-range artillery had joined the battle on
Saturday night against Islamic State, which holds parts of Syria and
Iraq as part of an ambition to redraw the map of the Middle East.
peshmerga joined the battle late yesterday and it made a big
difference with their artillery. It is proper artillery," he told
"We didn't have artillery we were using mortars and other locally made weapons. So this is a good thing."
Nassan did not elaborate and it was not immediately possible to verify that progress against Islamic State had been made.
arrival of the 150 Iraqi fighters -- known as peshmerga or "those who
confront death" -- marks the first time Turkey has allowed troops from
outside Syria to reinforce Syrian Kurds, who have been defending Kobani
for more than 40 days.
ALL EYES ON KOBANI
are supporting the YPG. They have a range of semi-heavy weapons," said
Jabbar Yawar, secretary general of the peshmerga ministry in the
Kurdish region in northern Iraq, referring to the main Syrian Kurdish
Eyewitnesses in the Mursitpinar area
on the Turkish side of the border from Kobani said two rockets were
fired on Saturday night.
A Reuters witness said
fighting on Sunday was heavier than in the last two days, noting a
strike in the late morning and the sound of three explosions.
has focused on Kobani, seen as key test of the effectiveness of
American air strikes, and of whether combined Kurdish forces can fend
off Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot made up of Arabs and foreign
Air strikes have helped to foil several
attempts by Islamic State, notorious for its beheading of hostages and
opponents, to take over Kobani.
But they have
done little to stop its advances, in particular in Sunni areas of
western Iraq, where it has been executing hundreds of members of a
tribe that resisted its territorial gains.
their latest air strikes, U.S. military forces staged seven attacks on
Islamic State targets in Syria on Saturday and Sunday and were joined
by allies in two more attacks in Iraq, the U.S. Central Command said.
the Kobani area, five strikes hit five small Islamic State units,
while two strikes near Dayr Az Zawr 150 miles (240 km) to the southeast
in Syria destroyed an Islamic State tank and vehicle shelters.
U.S. and partner nations hit small Islamic State units near the Iraqi cities of Baiji and Falluja.
In addition to their deployment to Kobani, the Kurds are waging their own battle against the Sunni militants in Iraq.
the Kurds have retaken some territory with the support of U.S. air
strikes in the north, Islamic State faces limited resistance in Iraq's
western Anbar province, where its militants last week executed over 300
hundred members of the Albu Nimr tribe because it had defied the group
In the first official confirmation of
the scale of the massacre, the Iraqi government said Islamic State had
killed 322 members of the tribe, including dozens of women and
children whose bodies were dumped in a well.
systematic killings, which one tribal leader said were continuing on
Sunday, marked some of the worst bloodshed in Iraq since the Sunni
militants swept through the north in June.
Albu Nimr, also Sunni, had put up fierce resistance against Islamic
State for weeks but finally ran low on ammunition, food and fuel last
week as Islamic State fighters closed in on their village at Zauiyat
"The number of people killed by
Islamic State from Albu Nimr tribe is 322. The bodies of 50 women and
children have also been discovered dumped in a well," Iraq's Human
Rights Ministry said.
Since Islamic State
declared a "caliphate" in large areas of Syria and Iraq in June, the
militants have lost hundreds if not thousands of fighters in battles
against other Sunni rebels, Islamist groups, forces loyal to Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad and in U.S.-led air strikes.
inside the group say that it receives hundreds of volunteers every
month, which helps it carry our more attacks. It also received pledges
of allegiances from Islamist groups in places such as Pakistan, Africa
and some Arab states. (Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Giles