WASHINGTON: Kurdish forces are “holding out” against the Islamic State group in the Syrian border town of Kobane, and US-led warplanes have intensified bombing raids to push back the jihadists intent on seizing the area, the US military said Wednesday.
US and Jordanian aircraft conducted eight additional strikes on the IS group around Kobane, for a total of 14 coalition strikes for the day and 19 bombing raids near the town since Tuesday, according to US Central Command, which is overseeing the air war and American forces in the Middle East.
“Indications are that Kurdish militia there continue to control most of the city and are holding out against ISIL (IS),” Central Command said in a statement.
The wording was unprecedented for Central Command which until now has provided terse summaries of air strikes without offering assessments of particular battles or indicated where the IS group may be gaining or losing.
“US Central Command continues to monitor the situation in Kobane closely,” it said.
Kobane has become the center of international attention with Kurdish leaders issuing desperate appeals while the fighting has sent some 200,000 people flooding across the border into Turkey.
Demonstrations in Turkey, accusing Ankara of failing to act to save the mostly Kurdish town, have triggered clashes in which at least 19 people were killed.
The latest strikes near Kobane destroyed five armed vehicles, an IS supply depot, a command center, a logistics compound, and eight occupied barracks, Central Command said.
Another air raid southwest of Raqa destroyed four armed vehicles and damaged two more, it said.
US fighter jets and other aircraft kept up bombing runs in Iraq, with one attack northwest of Ramadi, one in Mosul and another raid south of Kirkuk, it said.
All aircraft “exited the strike areas safely,” it said.
The Pentagon said earlier Wednesday that air power alone could not save Kobane or possibly other towns under attack from the IS group in Syria and Iraq.
The jihadists could only be decisively defeated by “capable” local forces — moderate rebel fighters in Syria and Iraqi government troops and Kurdish forces, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.
He said it would take time to train and arm forces that could fight effectively and work with US military advisers and aircraft.