Isis assault on Kobani: 'Intensify air strikes on militants,' urge Kurds trapped in border town

The jihadis have brought in extra tanks and artillery, while street-to-street fighting is making it harder for warplanes to target their positions

Ayla Jean Yackley
Monday 13 October 2014 06:17 BST
Turkish Kurds, on the Turkey-Syria border, watch over the border at the intensified fighting between Isis and Kurdish forces
Turkish Kurds, on the Turkey-Syria border, watch over the border at the intensified fighting between Isis and Kurdish forces

Kurdish forces defending Kobani urged the US-led coalition to escalate air strikes on Islamic State fighters who yesterday tightened their grip on the Syrian town near the Turkish border.

The coalition had intensified air strikes on Isis in and around Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, some four days ago. A Kurdish military official, speaking from Kobani, said Isis had brought extra tanks and artillery to the front lines, while street-to-street fighting was making it harder for the warplanes to target Isis positions. "We have a problem, which is the war between houses," said Esmat Al-Sheikh, head of the Kobani defence council.

While Isis has been able to reinforce its fighters, the Kurds have not. Isis has besieged the town to the east, south and west, so the Kurds' only supply route is the Turkish border to the north.

On Friday, Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, called on Turkey to help prevent a slaughter in Kobani, asking it to let "volunteers" cross the frontier so they could reinforce the Kurdish forces defending the town – which lies within sight of Turkey. The Turkish government is yet to respond.

Meanwhile, the US military said it had conducted six air strikes against Isis near Kobani on Friday and yesterday. The US and Dutch militaries also carried out three air strikes on Isis targets in Iraq, near Tal Afar and Hit, US Central Command said in a statement.

US forces "conducted multiple air drops to help resupply Iraqi security forces", it added. Supplies, it said, were dropped around Baiji, the site of Iraq's largest oil refinery; US aircraft delivered eight tons of ammunition, more than 2,000 gallons of water and 7,300 halal meals.

US Central Command also said that Iraqi forces control Baiji, 110 miles north of Baghdad, but that Isis "continues to conduct operations" in the area.

The air attacks near Kobani hit Isis fighting positions and two small units, damaging a command-and-control facility and destroying three trucks.

An Iraqi army helicopter crashed near the Baiji oil refinery on Wednesday. Isis claimed it shot down the aircraft, according to the SITE monitoring service.


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