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Islamic State on the verge of storming Kobane, reports

Kurdish Syrian town could be about to fall to IS, with fighters inside the town claiming only a small pocket of resistance remains
Smoke rises from the Syrian town Kobane, near the border crossing with Syria on 3 October (AFP)

Huge plumes of smoke were seen rising from Kobane on Friday, as its outnumbered Kurdish defenders came under intense fire from Islamic State militants who have advanced to its gates despite US-led air strikes against the militants in the area. 

At least 60 mortar rounds fired by the Islamic State (IS) group rained down on the Kurdish town Friday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which described it as the heaviest bombardment since mid-September.

It said a Chechen member of the IS organisation was leading the assault on the town, which is considered a strategic prize. Kurdish fighters inside Kobane told Al Jazeera that only a small Kurdish pocket remained, and that unless reinforcements came they feared the town would soon fall. 

Widespread media reports have been circulating that the US-led coalition has recently been bombing the suburbs of Kobane in an effort to stall IS, but Kurdish sources inside the town told MEE today that they have not seen strikes and that the coalition bombs had not fallen close to the town. Live stream footage of Kobane, shot from the Turkish side of the border, can be viewed here. 

The fierce fighting came a day after the Turkish government won authorisation from parliament to take military action in Syria and Iraq against the militants, who include thousands of foreigners in their ranks. However, it is unclear if and when the forces will be mobilised and what role Turkey will ultimately play. 

"We will do whatever we can so that Kobane does not fall," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, adding that about 186,000 people had flooded across the border from Syria in less than two weeks.

But Salih Moslem, the most powerful Syrian Kurdish politician, lashed out at Turkey claiming that Ankara had offered support on the condition that Syrian Kurdish authorities dismantle Rojava and its government. Rojava is the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria that declared autonomy from Damascus last year and named Kobane as its capital.  

"This is blackmail, we cannot accept it," Moslem, said. 

Damascus was likewise quick to hit back at Turkey, saying the Turkish stance "represents a real aggression against a member state of the United Nations."

Iraq too has expressed concern, saying that it does not welcome foreign boots on the ground and wants foreign intervention to be limited to logistical and aerial support. 

Saudi Arabia and the UAE take part in new bombing raids

The United States has been working to build a broad international alliance against militants who have declared an Islamic "caliphate" straddling swathes of Iraq and Syria where they have committed widespread atrocities.

The Pentagon said aircraft from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined US warplanes in new bombing raids Friday against IS in Syria.

Coalition planes hit militant tanks, oil refineries and a training camp, it said.

American aircraft also conducted three air raids in Iraq, including two northeast of Fallujah. 

Anadolu Agency is reporting that an Islamic State garrison was destroyed in one of the strikes in the south of al-Hasakah, the far north-east corner of Syria. Another airstrike destroyed two Islamic State tanks in the southeast of Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria. 

Two strikes north of Ar Raqqah, about 160 kilometres east of Aleppo, struck two modular oil refineries and an ISIL training camp. 

Another strike in northeast of Aleppo struck an Islamic State occupied building.

'We are alone'

In Syria, Kurdish militiamen destroyed two IS armoured vehicles southeast of Kobane, killing seven IS militants, according to the Britain-based Observatory, which has a wide range of sources inside the country.

A Syrian Kurdish official said Kurdish fighters had also destroyed an IS tank, but pleaded for more international support.

"For about 16 days we are defending Kobane. We are alone," the official, Idris Nahsen told AFP by telephone.

"We need help from the international community. We need weapons and ammunition," he said.

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