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Syrian town Kobani about to fall as Islamic State advances, says Turkey president
08-10-2014

MURSITPINAR: Turkey president on Tuesday said the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani was “about to fall” as Islamic State fighters pressed home a three-week assault that has cost a reported 400 lives and forced thousands to flee their homes.

The prospect that the town could be captured by Islamic State, who are now within city limits, has increased pressure on Turkey to join an international coalition to fight against the jihadists.

Islamic State wants to take Kobani in order to strengthen its grip on the border area and consolidate the territorial gains it has made in Iraq and Syria in recent months. U.S.-led air strikes have so far failed to prevent its advance on Kobani.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said bombing was not enough to defeat Islamic State and he set out Turkey's demands for additional measures before it could intervene.

“The problem of ISIS (Islamic State) ... cannot be solved via air bombardment. Right now ... Kobani is about to fall,” he said during a visit to a camp for Syrian refugees. “We had warned the West. We wanted three things. No-fly zone, a secure zone parallel to that, and the training of moderate Syrian rebels,” he said.

He said Turkey would take action if there were threats to Turkish soldiers guarding a historic site in Syria that Ankara regards as its territory. But so far Turkey has made no move to get involved in the fighting across the border.

Further pressure came from France, which said it was vital to stop Islamic State's advance on Kobani, and was discussing with Turkey what could be done.

“A lot is at stake in Kobani and everything must be done so that the Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists are stopped and pushed back,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told parliament. But some analysts doubt the will exists among Western allies to take further action.

“It’s the coalition of the unwilling, each country is doing the bare minimum, particularly in Syria,” said Fadi Hakura at the London based think-tank, Chatham House. From across the Turkish border, two Islamic State flags could be seen flying over the eastern side of Kobani.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said it had documented 412 deaths of civilians and fighters during the three-week battle for Kobani.

The US military said it and allied air forces launched strikes on Islamic State in Syria on Monday and Tuesday. In the Kobani area the raids destroyed armed vehicles, a tank and a vehicle carrying anti-aircraft artillery.

Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot, has ramped up its offensive in recent days against the mainly Kurdish border town, despite being targeted by US-led coalition air strikes aimed at halting its progress.

“There were clashes overnight. Not heavy but ISIS is going forward from the southwest. They have crossed into Kobani and control some buildings in the city there,” said Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Observatory, a group that monitors the conflict with a network on the ground. ISIS is a former name for Islamic State. (Reuters)