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New US-led airstrikes hit besieged Syrian town - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Smoke rises during airstrikes on the Syrian town of Kobani, on October 8, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS)

Smoke rises during airstrikes on the Syrian town of Kobani, on October 8, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS)

Mursitpinar, AP—The US-led coalition pounded positions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in the Syrian border town of Kobani on Thursday in some of the most intensive strikes in the air campaign so far, a Kurdish official and an activist group said.

But despite the airstrikes overnight and into the morning, ISIS fighters managed to capture a police station in the east of the town, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The militants now control more than third of the strategic border town, added the Observatory, a group that tracks Syria’s civil war through a network of activists on the ground.

The fighting over Kobani has brought Syria’s civil war yet again to Turkey’s doorstep and allies have tried to press Ankara to take a more robust role in the US-led coalition to fight the ISIS group. There has also been criticism that Turkey has stood by idly with its tanks parked just across the frontier from the Syrian Kurdish town.

Responding to such criticism, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday that it was unrealistic to expect Turkey to launch a ground war against ISIS on its own.

Cavusoglu spoke at a news conference in Ankara with visiting NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, who said that there is no easy solution to push back the siege on Kobani.

“[ISIS] poses a grave threat to the Iraqi people, to the Syrian people, to the wider region, and to NATO nations,” Stoltenberg said. “So it is important that the whole international community stays united in this long-term effort.”

Cavusoglu said that Turkey is prepared to take on a bigger role once a deal is reached with the US-led coalition. “Turkey will not hold back from carrying out its role,” he said.

ISIS militants launched their offensive on Kobani in mid-September, capturing several nearby Kurdish villages and steadily tightening their noose around the town since then. The fighting has also forced at least 200,000 town residents and villagers from the area to flee across the frontier into Turkey.

However, Idriss Nassan, an official with Kobani’s Kurdish government, denied the militants were in control of a third of the town on Thursday.

He confirmed that the Kobani police station was taken by the ISIS but he said it was later destroyed in an airstrike. He said the Kurdish fighters managed to regain several other town areas on Thursday.

“I can confirm that they don’t control a third of the city. There is only a small part of Kobani under the control of [ISIS],” said Nassan.

Both Nassan and the Observatory said more than 20 airstrikes have been conducted in the area since Wednesday afternoon.

The Observatory’s chief, Rami Abdurrahman, said that more than 500 people have been killed in and around Kobani since the fighting began in September.

Also on Thursday, ISIS brought reinforcements from their stronghold in the border town of Jarablous and the town of Manbij and Aleppo province, Abdurrahman said.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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