Tags: ISIS Tanks Near Kobani | Drive Kurds Across Turkish Border

Islamic State Tanks Nearing Kobani, Kurdish Stronghold

Friday, 03 Oct 2014 06:55 AM

Islamic State militants pursued their offensive around Kobani today, threatening to drive thousands more people from their homes and deprive the Kurds of one of their few remaining strongholds in Syria.

Kurdish politicians reported from outside the city that there was smoke and the sound of gunfire as Islamic extremists fired toward Kobani. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said the Islamic State started a new offensive on Kobani with heavy weapons and intense smoke is rising from the area.

“This is the worst day for Kobani since the offensive began” on Sept. 16, Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, said by telephone from the city today. He said there are casualties from 40 shells that have hit the city, including a gas station. 

Islamic State militants have been trying to capture Kobani for nearly three weeks as Kurdish forces struggle to stop its advance from the east, south and west. The offensive began with the radicals capturing villages outside Kobani as they advanced. They now control 325 villages and towns around the city.

Anadolu, citing local officials, said a mortar shell hit gasoline barrels in the Miktel neighborhood of Kobani and that thick black smoke was rising from that area.

Advancing Militants

The Syrian Kurds took advantage of the power vacuum created by country’s civil conflict, which began in March 2011, to declare self-rule in November last year. Their effective autonomy has been tolerated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose reach no longer extends to that region.

The latest twist in Syria’s war is straining an alliance that had shown the potential to transform Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken steps shunned by past leaders to engage with Kurdish demands for more rights, and pledged to end a three-decade conflict with rebel group PKK.

Sabri Ok, a senior PKK commander said the continuation of the peace process depends on the fate of Kurdish areas in northern Syria, pro-Kurdish Firat news agency reported today. Imprisoned rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan said yesterday that if Kobani falls, the peace process would collapse.

Shelling City

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syria war through a network of witnesses, said at least 25 shells hit Kobani. One Kurdish fighter and seven militants were killed today, the group said.

Fierce clashes were ongoing between Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants southeast of the town, Rami Abdurrahman, head of the observatory, said. Kurdish fighters destroyed two armored vehicles belonging to Islamic State, he said.

Hundreds of civilians are crossing into Turkey after the attacks, said Faysal Sariyildiz, a Kurdish lawmaker from the People’s Democracy Party. Kurdish forces reinforced positions in the east of the city to repel Islamic State.

“Islamic State is not immediately expected to attempt to storm the city,” said Sariyildiz. “They are trying to scare civilians and force them flee first.”

Sariyildiz said earlier that he could see shelling from his vantage point in the village of Atmaniki, which lies to the east of the border crossing of Mursitpinar. That supported an account by Ismail Kaplan, another local Kurdish politician, who spoke from the Turkish town of Suruc across the border.

“They are firing tanks and guns toward the city,” Kaplan said by telephone. “Clashes are taking place just outside the city limits and they are firing into the town. We can hear big booms and see smoke billowing from buildings.”

 

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Islamic State militants pursued their offensive around Kobani today, threatening to drive thousands more people from their homes and deprive the Kurds of one of their few remaining strongholds in Syria. Kurdish politicians reported from outside the city that there was smoke...
ISIS Tanks Near Kobani, Drive Kurds Across Turkish Border
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2014-55-03
Friday, 03 Oct 2014 06:55 AM
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