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Turkey says Kobane ‘about to fall’ to IS jihadists

© Aris Messinis, AFP | A black IS group flag flies over a building in Kobane, Syria on October 6, 2014

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-10-07

Turkey’s President said Tuesday that the key Syria-Turkey border town of Kobane is ‘about to fall’ to the Islamic State (IS) group and that a ‘ground operation’ is needed to defeat the jihadists.

The IS group entered Kobane for the first time Monday after a three-week-long siege. At least 20 jihadists were reported to have been killed in the ensuing street fighting.

By early Tuesday morning, the jihadists had taken three Kobane neighbourhoods, according to the AFP.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan warned Tuesday that the city was “about to fall” and that a ground operation was needed to defeat the jihadists. He made the comments during an address to Syrian refugees at a camp in Gaziantep province, near the border with Syria.

IS group flags over east of town

According to an AFP photographer, two black IS group flags were flying on Kobane's eastern side Monday.

IS group fighters seized part of Mishtenur Hill, which overlooks Kobane, late on Saturday, but US-led air strikes slowed their advance.

In a sign of mounting desperation, a Kurdish female fighter blew herself up at an IS group position east of Kobane on Sunday, the Observatory said.

It was the first reported instance of a female Kurdish fighter employing a tactic often used by the jihadists, said the Britain-based monitor, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria.

On another front, twin IS group suicide truck bombings killed at least 30 YPG fighters and security officers on Monday in the Kurdish town of Hasakeh, northeast Syria, the Observatory said.

Sunday's fighting around Kobane - also known as Ain al-Arab - killed at least 19 Kurdish fighters and 27 IS jihadists, it added.

The town has become a crucial battleground in the international fight against the jihadists, who sparked further outrage at the weekend with the release of a video showing the beheading of Briton Alan Henning.

What is Kobane's strategic significance?

The video - the latest in a series of on-camera beheadings of Western hostages - also included a threat to another hostage, US aid worker Peter Kassig.

His parents have issued a video plea for their son's release, urging his captors to show mercy towards the 26-year-old former US soldier who has converted to Islam.

'NATO to protect Turkey'

The IS group began advancing on Kobane on September 16, seeking to cement its grip over a long stretch of the Syria-Turkey border.

The offensive prompted a mass exodus from the area, with some 186,000 people fleeing into Turkey.

The Turkish security forces used tear gas Monday to push dozens of reporters and Kurdish civilians away from the border zone, which has become increasingly dangerous because of stray mortar fire.

Parliament in Ankara last week authorised the government to join a US-led campaign against IS group militants, but so far no plans for military action have been announced.

The new head of NATO said Monday that the alliance would protect Turkey against any IS group attack.

"Turkey is a NATO ally and our main responsibility is to protect the integrity, the borders of Turkey," said NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

British media, meanwhile, reported that Turkish hostages freed by the IS group last month may have been released as part of a prisoner exchange for up to 180 jihadist fighters.

The Times newspaper cited a list it had received saying that among them were three French nationals, two British, two Swedes, two Macedonians, one Swiss and one Belgian.

The Islamic State group has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, where it has been accused of carrying out widespread atrocities, including mass executions, abductions, torture and forcing women into slavery.

After first launching strikes against the IS group in Iraq in August, Washington has built a coalition of allies to wage an air campaign against the group.

In Syria, the coalition carried out anti-IS group strikes on Sunday and Monday near Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Kobane, where two jihadist "fighting positions" were destroyed, said US Central Command.

In Iraq, they also launched three raids, targeting the jihadists near Fallujah and Ramadi, it said, adding Belgium and Britain took part in the strikes.

According to medics and witnesses, at least 25 IS group jihadists were killed in three overnight air strikes on bases around their northern hub of Mosul.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-10-06

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