Air strikes against Islamic State not working, say Syrian Kurds

Insurgents have pushed to edge of Kobani, undeterred by western strikes, says official

Smoke rises from Kobani as Turkish forces stand guard on their side of the border with Syria. Photograph: Umit Bektas/Reuters

Smoke rises from Kobani as Turkish forces stand guard on their side of the border with Syria. Photograph: Umit Bektas/Reuters

 

Islamic State fighters have pushed to about 2km from the centre of the city of Kobani, undeterred by western air strikes, a leading Kurdish official in the city has said.

Fighting between the Islamist militants, also known as Isis, and Syrian Kurds continued unabated despite another volley of coalition air strikes in and around the Kobani enclave, Idris Nassan, Kobani’s “foreign affairs minister”, said.

“There are fierce clashes between Isis and YPG [People’s Defence Corps] fighters, at the moment mainly to the southeast of the city. Isis now stands at 2km from the city centre,” he said by phone. “I can hear the bombs and shells here.”

According to Mr Nassan, the situation was “under control for now”, but he underlined that air strikes had not deterred a further Islamic State advance.

“Air strikes alone are really not enough to defeat Isis in Kobani,” he stressed. “They are besieging the city on three sides, and fighter jets simply cannot hit each and every Isis fighter on the ground.”

‘Need ground support’

Mr Nassan said there were no evacuation plans: “Many people have left Kobani now. But there are still thousands of civilians inside the city.”

Yesterday, several MPs and representatives of Kurdish groups in Turkey arrived at the border to show solidarity with Syrian Kurds and to form a “human chain” stretching along villages bordering Kobani.

In the meantime, Saleh Muslim, co-chairman of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union party (PYD), went to Ankara this weekend to meet Turkish security officials to discuss possible Turkish help in defending Kobani against Islamic State.

Turkish media reported that officials in Ankara urged Mr Muslim to convince the YPG, the armed wing of the PYD currently battling Islamic State in Kobani, to join the ranks of te Free Syrian Army (FSA) and to “take an open stance against the Syrian regime” of Bashar al-Assad.

Call for international help

He said the exact outcome of the meetings remained unclear, but hinted that Mr Muslim had asked Ankara to allow for the PYD, the Syrian Kurdish affiliate of the better-known Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), to receive arms from outside of Syria.

“If Isis takes Kobani, they will be right on the border with Turkey. This concerns not only us, but Turkey too.”

– (Guardian service)