MURSITPINAR, Turkey: Jihadists are on the verge of seizing the key Syrian border town of Kobane, neighboring Turkey warned Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), prompting the UN envoy to appeal for immediate international action to prevent its fall.
Washington, whose air strikes have failed to stop Islamic State group fighters’ advance on Kobane, said it was “very concerned” for Kurdish civilians still inside the town given the jihadists’ track record of “terrible acts of violence” against ethnic minorities.
Since IS launched its assault on the Kobane region three weeks ago, driving back its outnumbered and outgunned Kurdish militia defenders, 200,000 mainly Kurdish refugees have fled into neighbouring Turkey.
But a Kurdish journalist inside the town told Agence France-Presse thousands of civilians had refused to abandon their homes.
Washington and its Arab allies stepped up air strikes on the advancing IS fighters — Agence France-Presse correspondents on the Turkish side of the border reported hearing at least eight around Kobane during the day.
The Pentagon said coalition strikes near Kobane on Monday and Tuesday had damaged or destroyed several armed vehicles, anti-aircraft artillery, a tank and a jihadist “unit.”
But they failed to stop IS fighters from penetrating eastern neighbourhoods of the town on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) sparking fierce street battles with the Kurdish defenders.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said the Kurds had succeeded in forcing the jihadists to fall back in some areas they had entered.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the town was “about to fall”, saying a ground operation was needed to defeat the militants.