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Thursday, Oct 2, 2014

World

Islamic State presses assault on Syrian border town

Reuters | Thursday, Oct 2, 2014

Turkish army tanks take up position on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province September 29, 2014.

SURUC Turkey/BEIRUT - Islamic State insurgents pushed on with their assault on a Syrian border town on Thursday despite coalition air strikes meant to weaken them, sending thousands more Kurdish refugees into Turkey and dragging Ankara deeper into the conflict.

Kurdish militants warned that peace talks with the Turkish state would come to an end if the Islamist insurgents were allowed to carry out a massacre in the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani, pressuring Ankara to act.

Islamic State fighters have taken control of hundreds of villages around Kobani, beheading civilians in a bid to terrorise villagers into submission, and have advanced to within kilometers of the town on three sides.

US led forces, which have been bombing Islamic State targets elsewhere in Syria since last week, hit a village just south of Kobani on Wednesday and further strikes were heard overnight, Kurdish sources in the town said.

But they seemed to do little to stop the Islamists' advance.

"We left because we realised it was only going to get worse," said Leyla, a 37-year old Syrian arriving at the Yumurtalik border crossing with her six children after waiting 10 days in a field, hoping the clashes would subside.

"We will go back tomorrow if Islamic State leaves. I don't want to be here, I had never even imagined Turkey in my dreams before this," she said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors Syria's war, said heavy clashes between Islamic State and Kurdish YPG fighters had been continuing on Kobani's eastern and southeastern outskirts for the last 36 hours.

The sound of a large explosion was heard around midnight at the same time as coalition planes were flying overhead, it said.

About 20 explosions were also heard in the areas of the Tishrin dam and town of Manbij roughly 50 km (31 miles) south of Kobani, resulting from missile strikes believed to be carried out by the coalition, the Observatory said.

Idris Nassan, deputy foreign minister in a local Kurdish administration reached by phone in Kobani, said the air strikes were not stopping the Islamic State attacks for now.

"I can't tell you that they are effective. But in the long term they will be effective, I'm sure of it," he said.

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