IS loses ground in Kobane amid heavy airstrikes

The Islamic State militia was retreating on Thursday (16/10/2014) from areas of western Kobane, a key Kurdish town on the border with Turkey, as the jihadists faced a combination of coalition airstrikes and attacks by Kurdish fighters.

But US officials have warned Kobane, where fighting against the Islamic State group has been ongoing for a month, could still be overrun by the jihadists.

“It’s important for people to understand: Kobane could still fall,” Admiral John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, said on Wednesday.

Kirby said it was not a strategic imperative to save the city but that the Islamic State continued to send fighters to Kobane, giving the coalition more opportunities to strike at the group. Nearly 40 airstrikes have been carried out this week.

Kurdish official say they are running low on ammunition, weapons, food and medical supplies.

“All essential supplies like bandages, antibiotics, anesthesia are running out,” Idriss Nassan, an official in the Kurdish administration in Kobane, told dpa.

If the Islamic State captures the entire area, it would have a continuous stretch of land from western Iraq deeper into Syria, with more positions along the border with Turkey.

The only supply line to Kobane, coming from Turkey, remain largely closed, as Ankara hesitates about its role in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State.

The Turkish government has said its wants the US to promise action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a condition for its support for the coalition.

Ankara also remains wary of the Kurdish fighters, who have linked to the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey and several Western countries considers a terrorist organization.

Officials said Thursday an airstrike by the US-led coalition in northern Syria accidently killed a civilian and Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) battling the jihadists.

Nassan said the coalition airstrike, which killed several Kurds, including an elderly woman, was intended to hit Islamic State fighters.

The Britain based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the allied planes carried out six strikes on the eastern sector of Kobane, as fighting raged between Kurds and the Islamic State group.

The watchdog said 662 people have died since the clashes began on September 16, among them 20 civilians, 268 Kurdish fighters and 374 from the Islamic State.

The Danish Defence Ministry said its F-16 fighter jets conducted their first mission in northern Iraq since being deployed in the region earlier this month. The jets provided air support to ground forces but did not conduct any strikes, the ministry said. – Sapa-dpa

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