Mitchell Prothero

IRBIL, IRAQ: A small unit of Iraqi Kurdish fighters entered the besieged Syrian town of Kobani on Thursday to meet with Syrian Kurds battling militants from the Islamic State and to make preparations for the arrival of a larger Iraqi Kurd force, according to Kurdish officials in Iraq and witnesses on the ground near Kobani.

The unit entering Kobani consisted of about 10 Iraqi Kurds, officials here said; the remainder of the force, believed to number about 150, has assembled at a Turkish military base near the border with Syria and will enter Kobani after the scouting unit briefs it on conditions in the besieged town.

Turkey, under pressure from the United States, granted permission for the Iraqi Kurds to travel through Turkey with heavy weapons and ammunition, under the assumption that the Iraqi Kurds will operate the equipment. Turkey considers the local fighters, known as the People’s Protection Units, or the YPG by its Kurdish acronym, to be aligned with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which Turkey has designated a terrorist organization and has fought an intermittent 30-year conflict over the formation of a Kurdish homeland.

Turkey previously had refused to allow PKK fighters to cross from Turkey into Syria and had warned the United States not to supply weapons to the YPG.

That was ignored by the U.S. within hours when it dropped bundles of ammunition, small arms and food to the Kobani defenders nearly two weeks ago.

The U.S. also has undertaken a fierce aerial campaign to assist the YPG, striking Islamic State targets near Kobani more than 180 times, including 10 raids on Thursday that hit seven Islamic State fighting positions, five buildings the militants’ had occupied, and two Islamic State units.