Peshmerga fighters 'heavily shelling' IS jihadists in Kobane

Arbil (Iraq) (AFP) - Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters who joined the battle for the Syrian border town of Kobane have been heavily shelling Islamic State group jihadists, a commander told AFP.

Speaking to AFP by telephone from inside Kobane, the commander said the peshmerga were manning artillery in support of local Syrian Kurdish militia fighters, who have been battling the jihadists for nearly seven weeks.

"We are 150 well-trained peshmerga and we are here only to provide support," said the commander, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We have been heavily shelling Islamic State positions in Kobane, which has helped the (Syrian Kurdish) People's Protection Units (YPG)," the commander said.

The peshmerga crossed the Turkish border into Kobane at the weekend after travelling across Turkey from Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdish region.

IS has seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq and the Iraqi Kurds have been a key fighting force in preventing the group's further advance in Iraq.

"We have fought IS in Iraq. There is no difference at all between the jihadists we fought in Iraq and those we are fighting in Kobane. They use the same weapons," said the commander.

Up to 4,000 jihadists are fighting some 1,500 to 2,000 members of the YPG in Kobane, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

The town has become a highly visible symbol of the international campaign against the jihadist group.

"Since our arrival, IS has tried to advance... but it has failed because we pushed them back," the commander said, adding that the Kurds had killed "a large number" of jihadists since Friday.

"Our morale is very high and we are convinced we will expel (the jihadists) from Kobane. We have a strategy to achieve this goal," the commander said.