Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kobane: Islamic State battles to encircle Syrian Kurds

Kobane: Islamic State battles to encircle Syrian Kurds

Syrian Kurds look over the border towards the fighting in Kobane, 10 Oct Syrian Kurds in Turkey look over the border towards the fighting in Kobane
Islamic State fighters have launched fresh attacks in the Syrian border town of Kobane in an attempt to encircle the Kurdish defenders.

The IS militants attacked western parts of the town but have yet to take the border crossing point with Turkey.

The crossing point is a vital supply and exit route, correspondents say.
The US-led coalition is continuing air strikes against IS but the Kurds say they urgently need more weapons and ammunition.

The US has itself said that air strikes alone may not be able to save Kobane from IS.
Separately in Iraq, officials in western Anbar province made an urgent appeal for military help, saying the area could fall to Islamic State militants "in days".
The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, at the Syria-Turkey border, says the Kurdish militiamen have pushed back the latest advance by Islamic State inside Kobane.
IS militants in Kobane appear to have been resupplied, reports the BBC's Quentin Sommerville

However, he says the militants are being easily resupplied from the south and the east and are able to launch further attacks.

A Syrian Kurdish official told BBC Arabic that IS had carried out intensive attacks on different areas across the south-west, south-east and east of the town.

Several hundred civilians are still believed to be in Kobane.

On Friday, UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura warned that they would "most likely be massacred" by IS if the town fell.
Turkish forces are ranged on the border but have not crossed, 10 Oct Turkish forces are ranged on the border but have not crossed
Refugees in Turkey, 11 Oct Tens of thousands of refugees have fled over the border into Turkey
There have been protests across Europe in support of Kobane's Kurds, including here in Dusseldorf, 11 Oct There have been protests across Europe in support of Kobane's Kurds, including here in Dusseldorf
Ismet Sheikh Hassan, a senior member of the Kurdish forces defending Kobane, repeated those fears on Saturday.

He told Associated Press: "We want a corridor to be opened, to evacuate the civilians. If [IS] enter the city centre, there will be a massacre.

"There are air strikes, but they are not that effective. It has been 26 days we have been resisting. We want the international community and the United Nations to support us."
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said there had been two more air strikes on Saturday and that IS fighters had fallen back after 90 minutes of heavy fighting.

Since the IS offensive against Kobane began in mid-September, some 500 people have been killed and up to 200,000 have fled across the border into Turkey.

Mr de Mistura called on Turkey to allow Kurdish volunteers to cross into Syria with equipment "to be able to enter the city to contribute to a self-defence operation".
Targets hit by US-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria
Turkey has ranged its military forces on the border but has so far ruled out any ground operation on its own, and has refused to allow Kurds in Turkey to cross the border to fight.
Turkey is reluctant to get involved militarily, partly because it is concerned about arming the Kurdish forces who are fighting the IS militants. Turkey fought a long civil war with its Kurdish minority.

The lack of action has led to deadly protests in Turkey by Kurds.
Meanwhile in Iraq, the provincial council in Anbar submitted a request to the Iraqi government asking for US ground troops to help fight IS militants, Iraq's al-Sharqiyah TV reported.

The vice-president of the council, Faleh al-Issawi, warned Anbar could "fall in 10 days".
The jihadist group has been attacking the provincial capital Ramadi, and has seized army bases in the area.

A US official told AFP news agency the situation in Anbar was "fragile".

The US military has carried out several air strikes on IS militants, preventing them from seizing the strategic Haditha dam. However, IS militants are still advancing in the province.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has repeatedly ruled out any foreign ground troops in Iraq.
IS fighters control large stretches of territory in Syria and Iraq.

IS says it aims to establish a "caliphate", a state ruled by a single political and religious leader according to Islamic law, or Sharia.

It has become known for brutal tactics, including mass killings, abductions of members of religious and ethnic minorities, and the beheadings of soldiers and journalists.
Map showing air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq since 8 Aug 2014

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