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Kurdish Fighters Hold Off IS Militant Assault On Kobani

  • RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

A woman reacts as smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani on October 13 after a strike from the U.S.-led coalition that is targeting the Islamic State militants besieging the town, seen from the Turkish-Syrian border.

A woman reacts as smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani on October 13 after a strike from the U.S.-led coalition that is targeting the Islamic State militants besieging the town, seen from the Turkish-Syrian border.

An Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber has detonated an explosives-laden truck in northern Syria’s besieged town of Kobani, wounding two Kurdish fighters.

The October 13 attack was aimed at removing a defensive blockade in the road and clearing a way for IS militants to advance on the north side of Kobani near the border with Turkey.

But Kurdish defenders repelled a follow-up ground assault by a group of IS militants in a fierce battle less than one kilometer from the Turkish border.

Aided by seven U.S.-led coalition air strikes, Kurdish fighters on October 13 also were holding back assaults by IS militants on Kobani’s eastern and southeastern neighborhoods.

IS militants have laid siege to Kobani for nearly four weeks, taking control of about one-third of the town in recent days.

The United Nations has warned of a likely massacre of the town's remaining civilian population if Kobani is captured by IS militants.

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Before Syria's civil war, Kobani had a population of about 45,000.

The population soared by several hundred thousand with the influx of internally displaced Syrian Kurds who fled fighting in other parts of Syria during the last three years.

But Ankara says more than 200,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed the border as refugees in recent weeks to escape the latest IS offensive on Kobani.

Shamsa, a 28-year-old Kurdish mother from Kobani who is still in the town, told RFE/RL by telephone on October 13 that 5,000 to 10,000 civilians remain.

Shamsa said she watches her town being shelled every day by IS militants and bombed by coalition air strikes.

She welcomed the U.S.-led coalition strikes against the militants but said the situation is worsening every day and that humanitarian aid is needed from the international community.

Shamsa told RFE/RL there are no longer any shops open in Kobani, forcing residents to survive off of whatever food supplies they've stored away.

She said heavy fighting means it is no longer possible for her relatives who fled to Turkey to deliver food through the barbed-wire fence that marks Turkey’s border on the north side of Kobani.

Turkey has fought a three-decade civil war against Turkish Kurdish separatists and has so far not intervened to support Syrian Kurds in the battle for Kobani.

But a Turkish military presence has been built up on the border, with fresh deployment of tanks and artillery arriving in the region during the last 24 hours now pointed in the direction of Kobani.

On October 12, U.S. defense officials said Turkey agreed to allow U.S.-led coalition forces the use of its military bases for launching air strikes against IS militants in Syria and Iraq.

But Turkish officials said on October 13 that there is no new agreement for such operations.

Officials in Ankara said talks are still under way on whether to allow the strategic Incirlik Air Base in southeastern Turkey to be used as a launching point for U.S.-led air strikes.

Turkey is asking for the U.S.-led coalition to create a no-fly zone and enforce a safe haven where Syrian Kurdish refugees could be returned to Syria’s side of the border.

Turkish officials confirmed they've agreed with Washington on training moderate Syrian rebels to fight IS insurgents.

But they did not say when or where training would take place.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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