SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) The fierce battle for the Syrian border town of Kobane continues with Islamic State (IS) fighters attacking Kurdish forces with mortars and car bombs, local sources say.
Islamic State militants who control much of Syria and Iraq, fired 44 mortars at Kurdish parts of the town on Saturday, some of which fell inside nearby Turkey, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Four more were fired on Sunday, it said.
The month-long battle for Kobane has ebbed and flowed.
A week ago, Kurds warned the town would fall soon and the US-led coalition stepped up air strikes on IS, which wants Kobane to consolidate its position in northern Syria.
The coalition has bombed IS targets in Iraq since August and it extended the campaign to Syria in September after IS made huge territorial gains.
Raids by IS fighters around Kobane intensified, with the fate of the town seen as an important test for US president Barack Obama’s campaign against the Islamists.
NATO member Turkey, whose forces are along the border overlooking Kobane, is a reluctant member of the coalition, insisting the allies should also confront Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to demand an end to the civil war that has killed almost 200,000 people since March 2011.
“We had the most intense clashes of days, perhaps a week last night. [Islamic State] attacked from three different sides including the municipality building side and the marketplace,” journalist Abdulrahman Gok said in Kobane.
“Clashes did not stop until the morning. We have seen lots of damaged cars on the streets and unexploded mortar shells,” he said.
The Observatory reported two IS car bombs hit Kurdish positions on Saturday evening leading to casualties.
A fighter from the female units of the main Syrian Kurdish militia in Kobane, YPG, said Kurdish fighters were able to detonate the car bombs before they reached their targets.
“Last night there were clashes all across Kobane … this morning the clashes are still ongoing,” she said.
The Observatory said 70 Islamic State fighters had been killed in the past two days, according to sources at the hospital in the nearby town of Tel Abyab, where IS bodies are taken.
The group said some Syrian Arab fighters from the Revolutionaries of Raqqa Brigade, fighting alongside Kurdish fighters, had executed two Islamic State captives.
“One was a child of around 15 years old. They shot them in the head,” a spokesman said.
Islamic State have also used executions throughout their campaigns in Syria and Iraq, killing hundreds of their enemies and civilians opposed to their cause, according to IS videos and statements.
Hundreds of thousands have fled their advance. Turkey hosts about 1.5 million Syrian refugees, including almost 200,000 Syrian Kurds from Kobane.
Ankara has refused to rearm beleaguered Kurdish fighters, who complain they are at huge disadvantage in the face of Islamic State’s weaponry, much of it seized from the Iraqi military when it took the city of Mosul in June.
Turkey views the YPG with suspicion for its longstanding links with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a 30-year armed campaign for self-rule in Turkey.
President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted in local media on Sunday as saying Ankara will never arm the YPG through its political wing, the PYD.
“There has been talk of arming the PYD to establish a front here against the Islamic State,” he said.
“For us, the PYD is the same as the PKK, it’s a terrorist organisation.
“It would be very, very wrong to expect us to openly say ‘yes’ to our NATO ally America giving this kind of support. To expect something like this from us is impossible.”
This stance has angered Turkey’s own Kurds, who comprise about 20 per cent of the population. Riots in several cities earlier this month killed more than 35 people.