Skip to main content

IS fails to take Kobane, as airstrikes kill five more fighters

Kurdish fighters continue to complain of a lack of support from the Turkish government
Kurdish protesters gather on a hill opposite the Syrian town of Kobane (AFP)

Kurdish fighters supported by US-led air strikes held back Islamic State militants attacking a Syrian border town Saturday.

Dozens of fighters from IS, which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, were reported killed in the latest coalition raids.

The dusty town of Kobane on the Turkish border has become a key battleground between IS and its opponents, who include Kurdish fighters as well as the United States and its allies.

The US military said four air strikes hit the area overnight.

Fighting raged on Saturday as IS fighters attempted to seize a strategic hilltop that would give them access to the town, activists said.

Mortar rounds pounded the town as smoke rose above it, an AFP team on the Turkish side of the border said.

"The resistance is continuing. The danger has not yet been overcome," Sebahat Tuncel, a Kurdish member of Turkey's parliament, told reporters after visiting Kobane.

Five IS militants were killed in American air raids near the town, as well as 30 more around Shadadi in northeastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

IS militants fired at least 80 mortar rounds Friday into Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab in Arabic.

The fighting killed at least 10 Kurdish militia members, said the Britain-based Observatory, which monitors the conflict.

But activist Mustafa Ebdi said the Kurds had been buoyed by their success at holding off the assault so far, noting that IS had hoped to capture the town by Saturday for the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival.

"So far they have failed to enter the town," Ebdi said.

Some locals criticised inaction on the part of the Turkish government.

"Firstly the Turkish government took a long time to take any action, and now that they are taking action, it is not sufficient,” said Aslam Mehmoud, a former Kobane resident, talking to Al-Jazeera.

“They have just deployed their military to protect their own land here, but are in no way helping the Kurds in this fight,"

"We expect the government to help our Kurdish fighters with military assistance, not words," local resident Umit Mercan told Al Jazeera.

"So many are getting injured, because they are running short of weapons to fight."

Turkish Kurds in Diyarbakir, the 'capital' of Turkish Kuridstan have closed their shops in protest at the government's lack of action.

IS began its advance on Kobane on 16 September, seeking to cement its grip over a long stretch of the border.

It has prompted a mass exodus of residents from the town and the surrounding countryside, with some 186,000 fleeing into Turkey.

Meanwhile, Syrian state media reported coalition strikes Saturday in Al-Quriyah in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, with a tank destroyed.

In neighbouring Iraq, unidentified gunmen killed 10 soldiers and Shiite allied militiamen in two separate attacks in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad.

American bombers and fighter jets also carried out five air strikes against IS in Iraq, the US military said.