MURSITPINAR: Jihadists fought their way into central Kobane in heavy clashes with the Syrian border town’s Kurdish defenders Monday, ahead of a Washington meeting of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group.
The breakthrough saw IS claim half of Kobane, nearly a month after the Sunni extremists began their assault on the town on the Turkish frontier, despite more than three weeks of US-led air strikes in Syria aimed at stopping them.
That failure will be among the main points up for discussion at Tuesday’s meeting in Washington of military chiefs from the 21 countries in the US-led coalition, as will Turkey’s call for the establishment of a protective buffer zone.
In their latest air strikes, American and Saudi warplanes targeted seven sites around Kobane, the US military said, including IS staging posts used to try to cut the town off from the outside world.
A Kobane politician who is now a refugee said IS fighters had surrounded Kobane to the south, east and west, and warned of a “massacre” if they take the northern front bordering Turkey.
“If they manage to take control of that area, they will close all access to the town and will begin a massacre,” Feyza Abdi said from Turkey.
“That is what they want, to completely enclose the town, cut off all contact with Turkey and engage in barbarism.”
Fighting spread to less than a kilometre (half a mile) from the barbed wire frontier fence, with the jihadists carrying out three suicide car bomb attacks in the border zone, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based monitoring group later said IS had advanced into central Kobane, seizing a major building and squeezing the town’s Kurdish defenders into its northern half bordering Turkey.