Jihadists gain upperhand in Kobane

Jihadists gain upperhand in Kobane

Friday, October 10, 2014 5:33 pm

Jihadists captured the headquarters of Kurdish fighters defending the battleground Syrian town of Kobane Friday as a UN envoy warned of a looming “massacre” by the Islamic State group.

Outgunned Kurdish militia were struggling to prevent the jihadists closing off the last escape route for the thousands of civilians still in or near the town, prompting an appeal for urgent military assistance.

Smoke billows from the South west of the Syrian border town of Kobane also known as Ain Al-Arab

Smoke billows from the South west of the Syrian border town of Kobane also known as Ain Al-Arab

US-led warplanes have intensified air strikes against IS fighters who have been attacking Kobane for three weeks but the Pentagon has warned that, without a force on the ground to work with, there are limits to what can be done.

Neighbouring Turkey has so far held back from any action against the jihadists on its doorstep, despite four straight nights of protests among its own large Kurdish minority that have left 31 people dead.

The jihadists’ advance has brought the front line to just 1.3 kilometres (little more than three-quarters of a mile) from the border.

IS now controls 40 percent of Kobane, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“The capture of the headquarters will allow the jihadists to advance on the border post with Turkey to the north of the town,” its director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

“If they achieve that, they will have the Kurdish forces inside Kobane completely surrounded.”

As fighting raged in the strategic town, an IS militant on Friday carried out a suicide car bomb attack to the west of the Kurdish headquarters, the Observatory said.

There were no immediate details on casualties.

US planes conducted nine new airstrikes in Syria on Thursday and Friday, the US military said.

Two IS training facilities were destroyed while several vehicles and a tank were hit in the raids, in which planes from the UAE and Saudi Arabia participated, it said.

An AFP correspondent on the other side of the Turkish border saw a cloud of white smoke rising above Kobane after coalition strikes Friday.

– Thousands in danger –

UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura appealed to Turkey to take any action it could to protect the 12,000 or so civilians still in or near the town, warning they “will be most likely massacred” if captured by IS fighters.

Kobane was “literally surrounded” except for one narrow entry and exit point to the Turkish border, de Mistura said.

The envoy called on Turkey, “if they can, to support the deterrent actions of the coalition through whatever means from their own territory.”

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