Kobane: Syrian Kurds ‘launch operation against IS’
Fighting has continued overnight around the Syrian border town of Kobane, with reports of Kurdish forces launching an operation against Islamic State
At least 12 people were killed in protests by Kurds in Turkey on Tuesday over the lack of Turkish military support.
Three weeks of fighting over Kobane has cost the lives of 400 people, and forced more than 160,000 Syrians to flee across the border to Turkey.
Late on Tuesday, Kurdish fighters told the BBC’s Paul Adams on the Turkey-Syria border that they were launching operations against fighters loyal to IS, who began an assault on the town in September.
Our correspondent says this suggests they feel emboldened a day after witnessing coalition air strikes make a difference for the first time – bringing the IS advance to a juddering halt.
But it remains unclear which side of the battle currently has the initiative, he adds.
The head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said IS fighters had withdrawn from several areas of the town, meaning they were no longer present on the western front.
It follows the US-led coalition’s most sustained air strikes so far targeting the extremists’ positions in the town.
The UN envoy for Syria has urged the international community to act now to prevent IS from seizing the key town.
Staffan de Mistura told the BBC that the fall of Kobane would be “a massacre and a humanitarian tragedy”.
Seizing the entire town would give the IS jihadists control of a long stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border, which has been a primary route for foreign fighters getting into Syria, as well as allowing IS to traffic oil from oilfields it has captured.
Turkey has come under increasing pressure to do more to help the Kurdish forces fighting in Kobane.