ISIS fight: Airstrikes on Kobani get more accurate with help from Kurds
U.S. military launches 18 airstrikes overnight near Kobani, intensifying campaign against militants
U.S.-led airstrikes killed at least 32 ISIS fighters in direct hits in Kobani this week because of closer co-ordination with Kurdish forces on the ground, a monitoring group said, after bombing of the Syrian town intensified.
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Kurdish officials said the main Kurdish armed group, the YPG, was giving the co-ordinates of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters in Kobani to the U.S.-led alliance that is bombing the group in both Iraq and Syria.
"The senior people in YPG tell the coalition the location of ISIL targets and they hit accordingly," Polat Can, a YPG spokesman, told Reuters, using an acronym for ISIS.
18 airstrikes overnight
"Some of them (ISIL) have withdrawn, but they regroup and return. But because the airstrikes are working in co-ordination, they hit their targets well," he said.
On Wednesday, the U.S. military said it launched 18 airstrikes overnight near Kobani, intensifying its air campaign against ISIS militants' efforts to capture the city near the Turkish border.
The 18 strikes announced by Central Command headquarters were in addition to 21 launched near Kobani the day before. Central Command says the latest airstrikes by U.S. bombers and fighter jets destroyed multiple ISIS fighting positions. It says the strikes also hit 16 buildings occupied by the militants.
The Kurdish YPG have been struggling to defend Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, from better armed ISIS fighters who have used tanks, artillery and suicide truck bombs in a month-long offensive against the town at the Turkish border.
ISIS has taken control of much of eastern and southern Kobani but has not made much progress this week. The Kurdish forces say they have taken back areas on the west of the town.
ISIS has seized large areas of Iraq and Syria in an effort to reshape the Middle East according to its hard-line vision of Islam.
The U.S. military said the coalition conducted 21 attacks on the militants near Kobani on Monday and Tuesday and appeared to have slowed ISIS advances there, but cautioned the situation remained fluid.
U.S. President Barack Obama voiced deep concern on Tuesday about the situation in Kobani as well as in Iraq's Anbar province, which U.S. troops fought to secure during the Iraq war and is now at risk of being seized by ISIS militants.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war using a network of sources on the ground, said one of the allied air strikes in the last day killed a group of ISIS fighters just 50 metres from a Kurdish position.
Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory, said seven ISIS fighters had been killed in clashes with the Kurds on Wednesday, compared to five Kurdish fighters.
"(The airstrikes) are more serious than before, because the co-ordination has grown in the last six days," Abdulrahman said.
Made some gains
The Syrian Kurds on Saturday voiced concern that the airstrikes had become less effective and urged more.
Abdulrahman Gok, a journalist inside Kobani, said the latest airstrikes had allowed the YPG to make some gains.
"Following the air strikes I went to the last safe point in eastern side of the city. Some buildings that were occupied by IS fighters were empty," he said. "On the west, YPG destroyed a vehicle that belonged to IS and killed the militants inside."
Turkey has rejected requests by the Syrian Kurds for it to open a corridor so they can resupply Kobani with fighters and weapons from other Kurdish areas of northern Syria.
The Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq has sent ammunition and mortar shells to help the Kurds in Kobani, but the weapons are stuck in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria because they have no way to reach the town.
Kobani is besieged from the east, south and west by ISIS, meaning the Turkish border or an air drop are the only way for them to get supplies without penetrating ISIS's blockade.
35 people killed
Turkey's policy towards Kobani has angered Kurds in Turkey who accuse Ankara of supporting ISIS in its campaign against the Syrian Kurds, who have carved out three autonomous areas in northern Syria since the civil war began there in 2011.
Anger at Turkish policy triggered riots among Turkey's 15 million Kurds last week in which at least 35 people were killed.
The main Syrian Kurdish party, the PYD, has close ties to the PKK, a Turkish Kurdish party that waged a militant campaign for Kurdish rights and has threatened to abandon a peace process with Turkey in response to the Kobani crisis.
Turkish warplanes were reported on Tuesday to have attacked Kurdish rebel targets in southeast Turkey after the army said it had been attacked by the PKK, risking reigniting a three-decade conflict that killed 40,000 people before a ceasefire was declared two years ago.
With files from The Associated Press