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IS nears Turkish border as airstrikes intensify

By Agencies in Mursitpinar, Turkey, and United Nations | China Daily | Updated: 2014-10-08 07:44

'Either we finish them, or they will finish us,' Kurdish official says

Fresh airstrikes by the US-led coalition on Tuesday hit positions held by Islamic State jihadists in the southwest part of Kobane, a key Syrian border town, according to an AFP journalist across the border in Turkey.

The strikes came a day after the extremists pushed into Kobane, seizing three districts in the city's eastern area after fierce street battles with Kurdish defenders.

"There were lots of clashes last night between YPG and IS," Idris Nahsen, a Kurdish official still in Kobane, said by telephone.

The IS jihadists "are in the east side of the city. They are trying hard to capture the city. But there is resistance from YPG fighters that stopped their progress Monday and last night," he said.

The airstrikes are "helping but are not enough", he added, calling for arms and ammunition to be supplied to the Kurdish fighters.

IS nears Turkish border as airstrikes intensify

He said the Kurds were in contact with both the US-led coalition and Turkey in search of more assistance.

"We need help from the international community. Either we finish them or they will finish us," he said.

Two airstrikes were carried out in the early morning while two more came later on, with the sound of the jets and bombing clearly audible over the border in Turkey.

More than 400 people have been killed in three weeks of fighting between IS jihadists and Kurdish forces at Kobane, a monitor said on Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 412 people, including 219 jihadists, 173 Kurdish fighters and affiliated forces and 20 civilians, had been killed since Sept 16.

However, with the YPG, or Kurdish People's Protection Units, seeking to halt the IS advance, a Kurdish flag could still be seen flying from a roof in the center of the town, the AFP correspondent said.

Turkey is ready to take action to combat jihadists in Syria, but only if the international community creates a coordinated strategy against the Syrian government, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.

Asked in an interview with CNN broadcast late on Monday if Turkey could send troops into Syria, Davutoglu replied this could only happen if "others do their own part".

"We are ready to do everything if there is a clear strategy that after ISIS we can be sure our border will be protected," he said, using an alternative name for IS.

The Turkish government last week won parliamentary approval for military action against IS, but the military has not intervened, even as jihadists move into Kobane.

IS nears Turkish border as airstrikes intensify

Pro-Kurdish protesters clashed with the police overnight on Tuesday in several Turkish cities, including Istanbul, in a show of anger against the lack of action by the government against jihadists in Kobane.

NATO chief's vow

The new head of NATO vowed on Monday to protect Turkey, a member of the organization, against any IS attack.

"Turkey is a NATO ally, and our main responsibility is to protect the integrity, the borders of Turkey," said NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

British media, meanwhile, reported that Turkish hostages freed by IS last month may have been released as part of a prisoner exchange for up to 180 jihadist fighters.

The Times cited a list it had received saying that among those freed were three French nationals, two Britons, two Swedes, two Macedonians, one Swiss and one Belgian.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Monday for "immediate action to protect the beleaguered civilian population" of Kobane.

"The secretary-general is following with grave concern the ongoing offensive by ISIL on the northern Syrian town of Ayn al-Arab (Kobane), which has already resulted in massive displacement of civilians, including into Turkey, and numerous deaths and injuries," a statement issued by Ban's spokesman said, using another acronym referring to the Islamic State.

AFP - Xinhua

 IS nears Turkish border as airstrikes intensify

Alleged Islamic State militants stand next to an IS flag atop a hill in the Syrian town of Kobane, as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province, on Monday. Aris Messinis / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 10/08/2014 page12)

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