Kurdish fighters have been locked in street fighting with members of the “Islamic State.” This comes after the militant group pushed into the outskirts of the Syrian town of Kobani, just over the border from Turkey.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that “Islamic State” (“IS”) fighters had taken control of three areas of the town.
“They have taken the industrial zone, Maqtala al-Jadida and Kani Arabane in eastern Kobani after violent combat with Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters” who had far fewer men and arms, the Observatory, told the AFP news agency.
Another group, the Local Coordination Committees, also said that “IS” fighters had advanced into the town.
However, the Reuters news agency quoted journalist Ismail Eskin, who said the Kurdish fighters were still keeping “IS” at bay.
“ISIL have only planted a flag on one building…they are not inside the city. Intense clashes are continuing,” said Eskin, referring to the group by another acronym.
Other reports earlier in the day suggested the group had hoisted its flag above at least two buildings in Kobani, which is also known as Kobane or Ayn al-Arab in Arabic.
The steady advance by “IS” fighters on the town has continued despite a campaign of airstrikes launched against them by warplanes from the US and some of its Gulf state allies.
Their advance has caused tens of thousands of civilians to flee across the border to Turkey, whose government has been watching the situation with growing concern. On Monday, the country’s military dispatched at least 14 tanks to defensive positions on a hilltop near the town, but on their side of the border (pictured above).
While Turkey’s parliament has authorized its army to join the US-led campaign against the “IS,” so far Ankara has appeared reluctant to get involved militarily.
Meanwhile, the head of NATO stressed that the Western military alliance would protect Turkey if it came under attack.
“Turkey is a NATO ally and our main responsibility is to protect the integrity, the borders of Turkey,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference during a visit to the Polish capital, Warsaw, on Monday.
Kurdish demand more help
On Monday, around 100 Kurdish demonstrators forced their way into the Dutch parliament to protest against the “IS” and demand that the international community do more to combat the militants. “Stop the silence. Support Kobani,” read one banner
Another demonstration was held at the Bonn headquarters of Germany’s international broadcaster, DW. Around 60 Kurdish demonstrators, some of whom were members of Kurdish women’s organizations, forced their way into the lobby of the building before presenting DW with a resolution in which they called for “humanitarian aid for women and children forced to flee, as well as long-term projects to give women, girls and children a chance of survival.”