Sunday, November 30, 2014 5:26 pm
Islamic State group jihadists battling for control of the Syrian town of Kobane have suffered some of their heaviest losses yet in 24 hours of clashes and US-led air strikes.
At least 50 jihadists were killed in the embattled border town in suicide bombings, clashes with Kobane’s Kurdish defenders and the air strikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
The Britain-based monitor also reported that the US-led coalition battling the IS group hit at least 30 targets in and around Raqa, the jihadists’ de facto capital.
There were no immediate details of a toll in the Raqa strikes, which the Observatory called one of the larger waves of raids by the coalition since it began its campaign in Syria in September.
In southern Daraa province, regime strikes killed at least 19 civilians, among them seven women and two children.
The deaths in Kobane came on Saturday after IS jihadists launched an unprecedented attack against the border crossing separating the Syrian Kurdish town from Turkey.
Kurdish officials and the Observatory alleged the attack was launched from Turkish soil, a claim dismissed by the Turkish army as “lies”.
IS began advancing on Kobane on September 16, hoping to quickly seize the small border town and secure its grip on a large stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border, following advances it made in Iraq.
At one point it looked set to overrun the town, but Kurdish Syrian fighters, backed by coalition air strikes and an influx of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces, have held back the group.
– Strikes hit IS ‘capital’ –
In Raqa province, the coalition carried out strikes against at least 30 IS targets on the northern outskirts of Raqa city and struck Division 17, a Syrian army base jihadists captured earlier this year.
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the strikes had caused casualties, but there was no immediate toll available.
“We can’t say it’s the largest set of raids they have carried out, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen this number of targets hit,” he said.
The coalition began carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State group on September 23, and stepped up raids in Kobane in a bid to prevent it falling to IS.
On Thursday, the coordinator of the coalition said at least 600 IS fighters had been killed in air strikes and that the group had made easy targets of its fighters by pouring them into Kobane.
“ISIL has in so many ways impaled itself on Kobane,” said retired US general John Allen, using a variant of the name for IS.
– Turkey hosts Pope, Putin –
But Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, speaking from Russia after meeting key regime ally President Vladimir Putin, said the air strikes were having little effect.
“Is Daesh weaker today after two months of coalition strikes? All the indicators show that it is not,” he told the pan-Arab Al-Mayadeen news channel.
He said unless Turkey closed its border to jihadists, the group would be unharmed by the air strikes.