Kurds thwart new ISIL bid to cut off Syria's Kobane

Kurds thwart new ISIL bid to cut off Syria's Kobane

MÜRŞİTPINAR - Agence France-Presse
Kurds thwart new ISIL bid to cut off Syrias Kobane

People watch as smokes rises from Kobane Oct. 26. AFP Photo / Bülent Kılıç

Kurdish forces thwarted a new attempt Oct. 26 by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters to cut off the Syrian town of Kobane from the border with Turkey before Iraqi Kurdish reinforcements can deploy.

The pre-dawn assault marked the fourth straight day the jihadists had attacked the Syrian side of the border crossing as the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters prepare to head for Kobane, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Kurdish forces, backed by U.S.-led air strikes, have been holding out for weeks against an ISIL offensive around Kobane, which has become a high-profile symbol of efforts to stop the jihadist advance.

The U.S. military said in its latest update that American warplanes carried out five air strikes near Kobane on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, destroying seven ISIL vehicles and an ISIL-held building.

Ground fighting for Kobane has killed more than 800 people since the ISIL offensive began on September 16, with the jihadists losing 481 fighters and the Kurds 313, said the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information.

Among the dead are 21 civilians, but the figures exclude ISIL losses to U.S.-led air strikes, which the Pentagon has said run to "several hundred."

The jihadist assault prompted nearly all of the enclave's population to flee, with some 200,000 refugees streaming over the border into neighbouring Turkey.

Last week Turkey announced it would allow the peshmerga fighters to cross its territory to join the fight for Kobane.

The main Syrian Kurdish fighting force in the town has close links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought a three-decade insurgency in southeastern Turkey and Ankara had previously resisted calls to allow in reinforcements.

Peshmerga 'ready to go'

The peshmerga forces are "ready to go," but they are not expected to deploy to Kobane before Oct. 27 at the earliest, Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported.

"Technical issues" concerning their transit through Turkey still had to be resolved, Rudaw said without elaborating. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) which dominates Kobane agreed to the offer of the peshmerga troops.
On Oct. 26 Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi paid a visit to Jordan, one of the five Arab nations taking part in the US-led air strikes.

After meeting with his Jordanian counterpart Abdullah Nsur he called for greater cooperation in the battle against ISIL, which he warned was "destroying Iraqi civilisation."

Jordan borders Iraq's Anbar province, much of which has been overrun by the ISIL.

The country has also been struggling to cope with an influx of refugees from the war in neighbouring Syria, where government air strikes on two besieged, rebel-held areas of Homs province killed at least 31 people, the Observatory said Oct. 26.