Iraqi Kurdish troops are said to have recaptured the town of Rabia, but suffered heavy casualties
SHAFAQNA – Heavy fighting is reported on both sides of a key border crossing between Iraq and Syria where Kurdish forces are battling Islamic State militants.
Meanwhile, IS fighters have been trying to dislodge Syrian Kurdish forces on the other side of the border.
It comes amid continuing air strikes by a US-led coalition on IS targets both in Syria and Iraq.
On Tuesday, British warplanes bombed an armed position and a vehicle in Iraq – the first IS targets struck by UK forces.
Britain said two Tornados were on an “armed reconnaissance mission” when they were asked to help Kurdish troops in north-west Iraq who were under attack.
In a separate development, Turkish tanks have taken up positions along the border near the Syrian town of Kobane after several shells hit Turkish territory during clashes between IS and Kurdish fighters.
The Turkish government is expected to send a motion to parliament, authorising military action against IS in Iraq and Syria. A parliamentary mandate would cover “all possible threats and risks”, Deputy PM Bulent Arinc was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that US-led air strikes targeted IS militants on the outskirts of Kobane on Tuesday.
The BBC’s Paul Adams in the area tweeted that there were “occasional plumes of smoke west of Kobane and… an apparent air strike”.
The US has not confirmed such reports.
Also on Tuesday, a series of deadly bomb attacks were reported in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and the holy Shia city of Karbala.
Senior Iraqi Kurdish officials said their peshmerga special forces had made good initial progress during their dawn offensive in Rabia.
The officials said that by nightfall, Rabia was firmly in Kurdish hands, although IS militants continued to hold out in just one building.
Rabia lies about 100km (60 miles) north-west of Mosul – the city controlled by IS.
But the Iraqi Kurdish forces also took heavy casualties – including the loss of a senior commander – when three suicide car bombers blew themselves up among the Kurdish troops.
The bombers are believed to have travelled from IS-controlled areas further east.
Source: BBC World