BAGHDAD/BEIRUT (Reuters) - A senior Iraqi Kurdish official said on Tuesday that Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had provided military assistance to Syrian Kurdish forces battling Islamic State fighters in the town of Kobani.
However, the Syrian Kurds in the town said they had received nothing so far, and a Syrian Kurdish official in the region said the shipment had been “symbolic” and was stuck elsewhere in northeast Syria.
Hamid Darbandi, the KRG official responsible for Syrian Kurdish affairs in Iraq, said: “We helped them in roughly every arena. We sent them aid, including military.”
He declined to provide further details, or to say how the weapons had been delivered to the town, which borders Turkey to the north and is besieged by Islamic State fighters to the east, south and west.
A Syrian Kurdish official said the KRG had sent a “symbolic” arms shipment, but that it had not reached Kobani because Turkey would not open the transit corridor sought by the Syrian Kurds to allow them to reinforce the town.
The aid, including ammunition for light weapons and mortar shells, is stuck in a Kurdish-controled region of northeastern Syria, Alan Othman, spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish military council in the area, said via Skype.
The Syrian Kurdish forces fighting better-armed Islamic State fighters in Kobani said they had received no supplies. “We haven’t received a single bullet,” Esmat Al-Sheikh, head of Kobani’s defence council, told Reuters on Tuesday.
Othman said the shipment from the KRG was “no more than symbolic”. “It remained in the Jazeera canton,” he said, using the Kurdish name for the northeastern Syrian province that borders Iraq.
But a second Iraqi Kurdish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the KRG had managed to send ammunition to Kobani:
“I can assure you that there have been shipments, and there will be more as well. As far as we know, it has made some difference,” the official said, adding that the shipments had started last week.
Reporting by Isabel Coles in Arbil and Tom Perry in Beirut; Editing by Kevin Liffey