Islamic State fighters have gained control of more than a third of the Kurdish town of Kobani on Syria's border with Turkey, a monitoring group said Thursday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the jihadists made "slow advances" overnight in fierce clashes with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
Islamic State fighters took control of the Asayesh (Kurdish police) headquarters in northeast Kobani, which they had targeted with a huge truck bomb Wednesday, the observatory said.
The watchdog said the U.S.-led coalition carried out strikes early Thursday on groups of jihadist fighters near the police building, where the clashes resulted in the killing of a high ranking leader in the Kurdish internal security forces.
Idris Nassan, the Kobani autonomous canton's deputy foreign affairs minister, told dpa that the Kurdish fighters overnight repelled more than 11 assaults on eastern Kobani.
"Our fighters managed to slow their advancements deep inside the eastern sector of Kobani, and maybe later I will be able to say that we have removed those terrorists from the eastern side," Idriss told DPA in a telephone call from the Turkish side of the border.
He added that Islamic State fighters had used explosive-rigged cars and a suicide attack in an attempt to advance towards the center of the city overnight.
U.S. Central Command, which leads the international air campaign against the jihadists, said it was monitoring the situation in Kobani closely.
"Indications are that the Kurdish militia there continue to control most of the city and are holding out against ISIL," it said, using an acronym for Islamic State. It added that the U.S. and Jordanian air forces had carried out eight air strikes around Kobani on Wednesday.
The strikes destroyed eight barracks occupied by Islamic State fighters, a command and control compound, a logistics compound, and a supplies depot as well as five armed vehicles, Central Command said.
Kurdish forces have welcomed the step up in air strikes since Monday, but say they also need ammunition and heavier weapons in order to hold out in the beleaguered town. They blame Turkey for blocking those supplies. The Kurdish defenders, the YPG, are closely linked to the banned Turkish Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Kobani lies at the heart of the smallest of three Kurdish-ruled areas in northern Syria. The surrounding area has been completely overrun by the jihadists since they started their offensive three weeks ago, sending over 185,000 people fleeing to the Turkish border.
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