Erdogan: Syrian town Kobane about to fall to ISIS

ISIS militants stand next to an ISIS flag atop a hill in the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane.

ISIS militants stand next to an ISIS flag atop a hill in the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that the Syrian northern town of Kobane is about to fall to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Erdogan made the comments during an address to Syrian refugees at a camp in Gaziantep province, near the border with Syria.

Erdogan said aerial bombardments alone may not be enough to stop the Islamic State group and called for support of opposition forces.

“There has to be cooperation with those who are fighting on the ground.”

Just days ago, Turkey said it wouldn’t let Kobani fall.

A day after the ISIS militants raised their flags in eastern parts of Kobane, clashes with Kurdish militias spread on Tuesday to new areas in the west and south, according to a monitoring group.

ISIS militants appeared unimpeded by the coalition airstrikes, which targeted their positions in the area early on Tuesday.

Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel Rahman and an activist from the town also reported new air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition against IS on the edges of the town overnight.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said street battles were now being fought in the south and west of Kobane, which is also known as Ain al-Arab, after ISIS jihadists entered it on Monday evening.

“They have retreated by a few streets in the eastern areas they seized yesterday, but the fighting has now spread to the south and west of the town,” Abdel Rahman said.

He said ISIS fighters had seized a number of buildings in the south and west of the town, including a hospital under construction on the western outskirts of Kobane.

Abdel Rahman also reported fresh air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition overnight, saying they hit the east and southeastern edges of the town.

Kobane activist Mustafa Ebdi confirmed the strikes, but said they had little effect.

“The strikes hit the Mishtenur area,” he said, referring to a plateau south of Kobane.

“But they (ISIS) aren’t gathered there. There are other places they should be hitting,” he said.

Ebdi confirmed street battles were being fought in the east, west and south of the town, which is bordered to the north by the Turkish border.

“The Kurdish fighters are still optimistic, they only have light weapons, but they know Kobane well,” he said.

“And they are fighting to defend their town and they say they will fight to the last person.”

The Observatory said that at least 34 IS jihadists and 16 Kurdish fighters had been killed in Kobane in fighting on Monday.

IS jihadists began advancing on Kobane three weeks ago, quickly capturing a string of villages surrounding the town and prompting some 186,000 residents to flee into Turkey.

ISIS is hoping to seize the town to cement its grip over a long stretch of the border between Syria and Turkey.

 
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