World Bulletin/News Desk
New U.S.-led air strikes against ISIL fighters failed to stop them from pressing their assault on a strategic Syrian town near the Turkish border on Saturday, hitting it with shell fire for the first time.
ISIL militants closed in on the Kurdish city of Kobani just across the border from Turkey, according to the Anadolu Agency reporters.
ISIL launched an offensive in mid-September, capturing many villages surrounding Kobani, in northern Syria, from Kurdish fighters, grouped into what are called People's Protection Units or YPG.
ISIL's mortar shelling started to hit the city Saturday as the group launched its offensive in the southern parts of the city, which has been besieged for more than 10 days, according to an AA reporter in the field.
One of the shells hit a minibus near Tavsanli, a Turkish village within sight of Kobani. A large hole was visible in the rear of the vehicle.
"Two people were injured in the face when the minibus was hit. If they'd been 3 metres (10 feet) closer to the car, many people would have died," said Abuzer Kelepce, a provincial official from the pro-Kurdish party HDP.
Heavy weapons fire was audible, and authorities blocked off the road towards the border.
The rising smoke in the city of Kobani, or Ain al-Arab, could be seen from the Turkish border.
Kobani is less than ten kilometers away from the Turkish border town of Suruc.
The U.S.-led coalition struck several targets of ISIL group in Iraq and Syria, Friday night and Saturday, including around the Kurdish-populated city of Kobani, where more than 150,000 Kurds have fled into Turkey in the past week.
"An ISIL building and two armed vehicles at the Kobani border crossing were destroyed. An ISIL-held airfield, an ISIL garrison and an ISIL training camp near Ar Raqqah were damaged," read a U.S. Central Command statement.
According to the statement, an ISIL vehicle and several buildings belonging to an ISIL garrison were also destroyed in the Al-Hasakah province in northeastern Syria.
An ISIL command and control facility, near the town of Manbij in the northern part of Aleppo, was damaged, said a U.S. Central Command statement.
Both the U.S. Air Force and the Navy were involved in the strikes.
In addition, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates also participated in these strikes, according to the U.S. Central Command.
In Iraq, three airstrikes in the southwest of Irbil destroyed four ISIL armed vehicles and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the British-based Observatory, said 23 ISIL fighters were killed. He said the heaviest casualties were inflicted in attacks on an airport.
But the monitoring group said ISIL was still able to shell eastern parts of Kobani, wounding several people. It said that IS fighters had killed 40 Kurdish militia in the past five days in their battle for Kobani, including some who were killed by a bomber who drove into the town's outskirts in a vehicle disguised to look as though it was carrying humanitarian aid.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan signalled a shift in Ankara's position by saying for the first time that Turkish troops could be used to help set up a secure zone in Syria, if there was international agreement to establish one as a haven for those fleeing the fighting.
Turkey has so far declined to take a frontline role in the U.S.-led coalition against IS, but Erdogan told the Hurriyet newspaper: "The logic that assumes Turkey would not take a position militarily is wrong."
He said negotiations were under way to determine how and by which countries the air strikes and a potential ground operation would be undertaken, and that Turkey was ready to take part.
"You can't finish off such a terrorist organisation only with air strikes. Ground forces are complementary ... You have to look at it as a whole. Obviously I'm not a soldier but the air (operations) are logistical. If there's no ground force, it would not be permanent," he said.
Last Mod: 28 Eylül 2014, 09:54