‘IS 1 km from Kobane, airstrikes not enough’
ANKARA: Islamic State (IS) militants are just one kilometer from the Syrian town of Kobane and air strikes are not enough on their own to stop them, a Syrian Kurdish official said on Sunday.
No IS fighters were yet inside Kobane, according to Idris Nahsen, deputy foreign minister of the region, who spoke to AFP by phone from the besieged town.
“They are one km away in some places and two or three kilometers in other places,” he added.
There have been further US-led air strikes aimed at stopping the militants but Nahsen said they would not be enough by themselves to stop the advance of IS.
“They are not enough to defeat terrorist groups on the ground. They (the US-led coalition) have to help with ammunition and weaponry.
“The strikes are helping but we need heavy weaponry, armored vehicles, cannons, rockets. And air strikes need to be more effective,” he told AFP.
Kurdish fighters have been battling the advance of IS militants around Kobane for the last two weeks. Some 186,000 refugees have fled to Turkey since the fighting began.
IS fighters seized part of a strategic hill overlooking the town late on Saturday, a monitor said, but their progress was slowed by new strikes from the coalition of Washington and Arab allies. Fighting raged around Kobane as the militants pressed their nearly three-week siege of the town, which saw them make some progress late Saturday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.
“IS succeeded on Saturday night in taking the southern part of the Mishtenur hill,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Separately, five people were wounded on Sunday when a mortar crashed into a house on Turkish territory just a few km from a border area inside Syria where Kurdish fighters are battling Islamic State, sources said.
The mortar — whose origin was not immediately clear — smashed into the house two km from the Syria border outside the town of Suruc, medical sources told AFP. They said none of the injuries was believed to be life-threatening.
“It was like a nightmare. There are clashes nearby and nobody is doing anything,” one of those wounded, Berhan Polat, told AFP from hospital in Suruc. He said there were around 10 to 15 people in the house at the time.
They also ordered the evacuation of the border zone around the crossing of Mursitpinar that has served as the main vantage point for watching the fighting for reporters and Kurds over the last two weeks.
The security forces used tear gas to disperse all people from the border zone and one media car was damaged by a tear gas canister fired at point blank range, witnesses said.