Iraqi Kurds to vote on sending forces to Syria

Iraqi Kurdistan has its own security forces, government, borders and flag

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Iraq’s Kurdish regional parliament will hold a session on Wednesday to vote on deploying peshmerga security forces to aid Syrian Kurds battling jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group, a senior lawmaker said.

The planned vote raises the possibility that the three-province autonomous Kurdistan region will make the decision to deploy forces from Iraq to fight in Syria’s civil war independent of the federal government.

“Today, the Kurdistan parliament will hold a session... to give the authorization and allow the president of the region to move forces to the town of Kobane” in Syria, Omid Khoshnaw, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party's parliamentary bloc, told AFP.

The strategic town of Kobane, located near the Turkish border, has become a crucial battleground in the war against ISIS, which also holds major territory in Iraq.

Kurdish forces have played a leading role in combating the group in northern Iraq after federal security forces collapsed under the weight of an ISIS-led militant offensive launched in June.

Iraqi Kurdistan has its own security forces, government, borders and flag, but has been reliant on payments from Baghdad for funding.

The region’s decision to independently sign contracts with foreign firms to develop its natural resources -- a move that could ultimately pave the way for independence -- has been a major point of contention with Baghdad.