Syria Kurds advance in heart of Kobane: monitor
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Smoke rises on November 13, 2014 after shelling in the Syrian city of Kobane as seen from the Turkish border village of Mürşitpınar. AFP PhotoSyrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the flashpoint town of Kobane made new gains Nov. 18, expelling the jihadists from several central buildings and seizing weapons, a monitor said.
The advance came hours after the US-led coalition launched four strikes against ISIL positions in central Kobane, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) staged a "special operation" during which they captured six buildings used by ISIL, said the Britain-based group, which relies on a network of sources in Syria.
Thirteen ISIL fighters were killed, it said.
The Kurds "captured a large amount of weapons and ammunition, including RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) rounds, light weapons, sniper guns and thousands of heavy machinegun rounds," the Observatory said.
The US and Arab allies began strikes against jihadist positions in Syria in late September, days after ISIL launched its assault on Kobane.
Some 1,200 people, mainly fighters, have been killed in the battle for the town on the border with Turkey.
Kobane has become a major symbol of resistance against ISIL, which has committed widespread atrocities and imposed its harsh interpretation of Islamic sharia law in areas under its control.
Last month, the United States and Turkey warned that the town was teetering on the brink, but analysts say there have been signs the tide is beginning to turn in favour of its Kurdish defenders.
Highly motivated Syrian Kurdish troops are fighting alongside Iraqi peshmerga forces and Syrian rebels that have reinforced the town's defences, backed by US-led strikes on ISIL positions.
The multi-sided Syrian war has killed more than 195,000 people and forced millions from their homes since it began three and a half years ago as an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
On Tuesday, at least 13 civilians, including two children, were killed in regime air strikes on a rebel-held area further east in Aleppo province, the Observatory said.
The strikes came hours after 14 other civilians were killed on Monday night in Al-Bab, an ISIL-controlled town in the same province, it added.
The Syrian government has in recent months stepped up its air strikes against ISIL-held towns dotted across northern and eastern Syria, but most of the casualties have been civilians.
The UN and human rights groups have repeatedly called on all sides in the war, including the Assad regime, to stop using weapons that fail to discriminate between civilians and military targets.