Ten Iraqi Kurdish fighters crossed into the embattled Syrian border town of Kobane from Turkey on Thursday, drawing an angry response from the Damascus government, which accused Ankara of violating national sovereignty by allowing foreign troops to enter Syria.
The Iraqi peshmerga delegation crossed back into Turkey at nightfall after discussing with Syrian Kurds details of the expected deployment of a force of about 150 that was dispatched from Iraq to help them battle Islamic State militants for control of Kobane, Kurdish activists said.
The obscure little town has no strategic significance but has emerged as an early test of the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State in Syria. As the battles in Kobane raged within sight of TV cameras on the Turkish border and Syrian Kurds complained of being ignored, the town became the chief focus of the airstrikes.
U.S. warplanes have since conducted multiple bombing raids against Islamic State positions in and around Kobane, helping the Kurds stave off what had appeared to be imminent defeat.
The small peshmerga deployment is unlikely to herald a major shift on the ground, but it is a symbolically important moment for Kurds across the region, signifying an internationally sanctioned cross-border alliance that some of them hope will advance their dreams of uniting under an independent nation.