kurdish fighter
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter guards a temporary military camp near the front line in Gwar, northern Iraq Reuters

Iraqi Kurdish fighters are travelling to Turkey from where they will head into Syria to defend the city of Kobani from the Islamic State (Isis) militants who have been waging an offensive for over a month.

A plane was flying 150 Peshmerga fighters from Erbil, the de-facto capital of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, to Silopi in south-eastern Turkey to travel across the Syrian border by land. Their heavy armaments will also be transported by land.

The move comes after Ankara authorised the use of Turkish territory for Kurdish forces to travel from northern Iraq to the besieged Syrian city and the Kurdish parliament last week sanctioned the deployment of 150 fighters.

"We welcome the deployment of peshmerga fighters and weapons from the Kurdistan Region to Kobani, which began this evening," Brett McGurk, US President Barack Obama's deputy envoy, wrote on Twitter.

Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu countered criticism that the country has faced for not tackling IS as it continues its offensive on the Syrian-Kurdish city of Kobani.

Davutoglu told the BBC in a televised interview that only the Syrian opposition fighters and Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters should be expected to defend the city from the IS attack.

"Saving Kobani, retaking Kobani and some area around Kobani from IS, there's a need for a military operation," he said in an interview with the BBC.

"If they [international coalition] don't want to send their ground troops, how can they expect Turkey to send Turkish ground troops with the same risks on our border.

"The only way to help Kobani, since other countries don't want to use ground troops, is sending some peace-oriented or moderate troops to Kobani. What are they? Peshmerga... and Free Syrian Army [Syrian opposition forces]."

The Syrian monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, estimates that at least 800 people - mostly IS militants and Kurdish fighters - have been killed in the month-long assault on the city, while over 200,000 Syrian Kurds have fleed into Turkey.