News / Middle East

    Fighting Intensifies as IS Aims to Capture Syrian Border City

    • Smoke rises following an airstrike by the US-led coalition during fighting between Syrian Kurds and the  Islamic State militants, as seen from the outskirts of Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border, Oct. 10, 2014.
    • Protesters and students from the Middle East Technical University clash with riot police while protesting against the Islamic State taking control of Kobani, in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 9, 2014.
    • A Turkish armored vehicle patrols the border where fighting between Syrian Kurds and the Islamic State militants has intensified, on the Turkey-Syria border, Oct. 10, 2014.
    • French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (left) and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu attend a press conference stating concerns that the Islamic State is gaining control of Kobani in Syria, in Paris, Oct. 10 , 2014.
    • Turkish Kurds offer their Friday prayers in support of the Syrian Kurds in nearby Kobani, Syria, Oct. 10, 2014.
    Fighting Rages as Kobani Teeters on Falling to IS Militants
    VOA News

    Fighting raged on Friday in the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani near the Turkish border, with Syrian Kurdish leaders saying key government buildings have fallen to Islamic State forces.

    Kurdish sources on the Turkish side of the border say the Islamic State has control of the court house, police headquarters and the main municipal building. Anwar Muslim, head of the Kobani Council, said the Islamic State is in control of half of the city, including Kurdish defense forces headquarters.

    Ashya Abdullah, co-chair of a prominent Syrian-Kurdish political party (PYD) told VOA's Kurdish service from Kobani there is "very, very intense fighting" in two parts of the city.

    Kurdish fighters are trying to halt a three-week offensive by the Islamic State on the strategic border city, as militants aim to take complete control of the area.

    Dire consequences

    The U.N. envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said Friday that thousands of people most likely will be massacred if Kobani falls to Islamic State fighters. He said there are 700 elderly civilians trapped in the city, as well as about 12,000 people who have left the city center but can not get to the border with Turkey.

    The U.S. military continued carrying out air strikes on Islamic State targets in Kobani on Friday, firing at sites much closer to the center of the city, especially in areas close to the Turkish border. The attacks targeted Islamist training sites, tanks and vehicles.

    The British based group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says Islamic State fighters are now in control of 40 percent of Kobani.

    The U.S. State Department said Friday that Turkey has agreed to help train and equip moderate opposition groups in Syria.  Spokeswoman Marie Harf said U.S. Department of Defense officials will travel to Turkey next week to discuss the matter.

    "Turkey has agreed to support training and equip efforts for the moderate Syrian opposition. There will be a DoD [Department of Defense] planning team traveling to Ankara next week to continue planning that through military channels," she said.

    Turkey has deployed troops at its border, but has said it will not join the fight despite U.S. pressure to do so.

    Kurdish control

    U.S. defense officials said on Thursday that Kurdish militias remain in control of "most of the city," known also as Ayn al-Arab, and are resisting a takeover by Islamic State militants.

    Kobani’s defense chief, Ismet Hasan told VOA the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known as the YPG, held off the militant group in fierce clashes overnight. 

    He added that the IS group is receiving reinforcements from the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Raqqa.

    “For 25 days we have been resisting the IS with light weapons, but with the full determination of YPG fighters and the people of Kobani. We will continue resisting against IS terrorists but we need heavy weapons. If the U.S. can provide us weapons that are capable of eliminating their heavy weapons, like tanks and artillery, and continue air strikes against [the IS], we are confident we will be able to kill them all,” stated Hasan.

    After much of the local population sought refuge in Turkey, Kurdish fighters rallied to defend the city and asked for international support.

    The U.N. envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, urged Turkey to let "volunteers" (Kurds) cross the border so they can reinforce Kurdish militias defending the city. He warned that 700 civilians who remain trapped in Kobani, plus about 12,000 gathered nearby, will most likely be "massacred" if the city falls to the Islamists.

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he will not give in to street protesters demanding his government do more to protect Kurds. He questioned supporting a Syrian regime that he said has killed about 250,000 people, and he criticized neighboring Muslim countries that do so.

    With the threat of Kobani falling to the Islamic State, Turkey is experiencing violent street protests led by its Kurdish minority who say Turkey's government is failing to intervene. Police have used tear gas to break up many of the protests.

    Swaying Turkey

    U.S. and NATO officials on Thursday held talks in Ankara aimed at convincing Turkey to make a greater contribution to the global anti-Islamic State coalition.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday at a joint news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that discussions about Turkey's contributions to fighting the militants are ongoing.

    Turkey's parliament has authorized military action in Syria and Iraq, but Turkish forces have not carried out any actions against the militants.

    Stoltenberg said the Islamic State group poses a threat to Syria, Iraq, Turkey and to NATO nations. "So it is important that the whole international community stays united in this long-term effort.  I welcome the decisive actions taken by the United States with many allies and partners and I welcome the recent vote in the Turkish parliament to authorize an even more active role of Turkey in the crisis," he said.

    He also said a no-fly zone or buffer zone in the region is not yet under consideration.

    Material for this report came from AP and AFP.

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    Comments page of 3
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    by: Jack from: NL
    October 12, 2014 6:35 AM
    A talking World and an acting U.S. It seems to be an never canging situation. Give the Kurds in Kobani what they need to defend their lives and living ground. Don 't wait what the talkers will do, they 'll keep talking. Act please!

    by: Bill Morten from: Stockton, California
    October 11, 2014 3:48 PM
    I remember the Turkish army / infantry of 35 years ago. If there was ever a "rag tag" group of fighting men, this was the personification of it. I realize the the Turkish military is a formidable fighting force, and yields a tremendous amount of power within the country, but it's real force on the ground is another story. It is very telling of the type of NATO member that Turkey really is.
    After having years of respect and admiration for Turks, I am beginning to think like the French and wonder really how much Turkey really is a part of the EU or an ally of the West.

    They, like the Russians, have become deluded by some economic success within their countries that has made them think that they can go it all alone. This is an extremely sad and tragic mistake that comes from their collective, nationalistic, egocentricity
    In Response

    by: Bill imagination from: Stockton, lameville
    October 12, 2014 6:18 AM
    Sounds quiet self-absorbed and baseless. 35 years seems to related today exactly how? I think last paragraph describes US more than any country.

    by: KOBANİ from: Turkey
    October 11, 2014 7:09 AM
    Turkey is a Nato ally but, also confidentially Isis ally. so they not letting help get to Kobani. how this can be.
    I am not understand. Why Still West Wary of Contact With Syria's Kurds.
    what did Kurds to The West;
    Did they killed western people or innocent people ?
    Did they have been hurt property of Westerners or any innocent people?
    Kurds are only trying to protect his own people and their land against the savages.
    They are hated by strict conservative jihadists. because their culture is more like that of eastern Europe.
    Their culture not segregate Christians, Jews and other religions among their people
    There should be no hesitation or delay in supplying the Kurds with the tools they need to defeat ISIS forces in front of them.
    urgently,urgently, WHO CAN, Please HELP for weapons and LET them to protect his own people and their land against those savages.

    by: Hejar from: usa
    October 11, 2014 3:55 AM
    They say Turkey will contribute by training opposition forces in Syria. Wait wait... If I recall correctly Turkey has been doing that from day one hence Isis pigs. It's pathetic how the allies are trying to put a positive spin on Turkey's complete betrayal. Face it Turkey has decided to ally with jihadists, everything else is just misdirection.
    In Response

    by: Phu from: Long Town
    October 13, 2014 5:07 AM
    So has the US in jordan? Why isn't in the US at fault? I see you're from US, bias are you? Do american always jump to conclusions.

    by: Reality Check from: World
    October 10, 2014 11:40 PM
    When is the Air War Obama promised going to start ?

    So far all we are seeing is media events and pin pricks.

    The Bosnia Air War and the Kosovo Air War were real Air Wars with 100 to 200 sorties each day.

    This average of 2 to 3 air strikes each day is a joke, not an Air War.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    October 11, 2014 7:12 PM
    LOOK for the US and allies to launch an onslaught of continuous air attacks [bombings] against the (ISIL) beheader army to begin soon, with a continuous sustained US led 24 hour a day bombing campaign [like they did in Libya], against the (ISIL) beheader army?..... [24 hours a day, and 7 days a week], the US and allies will drop [a billion dollars of missiles and bombs a week] on the (ISIL) beheader army?..... [and if that doesn't work, they'll get more missiles and bombs, and start again?]..... [but the US will never ever use the greatest army in the history of the world to fight the (ISIL) beheader army on the battlefield?]..... CRAZY isn't it?

    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    October 10, 2014 10:28 PM
    I cannot understand how ISIL is getting weapons, training and funds to manage their daily activities. USA & EU should block these pipe lines first so they can defeat ISIL and ultimately eliminate this cancer from earth.
    I think Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar, Jordon and Kuwait still helping ISIL to play this dirty drama. Other wise how it is possible for ISIL to fight in Syria in more than 12 places and in Iraq more then 6 places.
    USA & EU should ask sponsor of ISIL to block all pipe lines other wise difficult job for USA to win this war completely, partly may be possible but to win with 100% I have some doubt.
    In Response

    by: A. S. Davis from: Lonely star, lol
    October 12, 2014 10:46 AM
    It seems people in the US, want to blame others for their own mistakes. People here have selective memories of US conduct in Iraq. It's laughable for group as ISIL to amass enough arms like they have for small theft. ISIL are a part of FSA, trained and sponsored by the US. Maliki is being blamed for something Obama is at fault.
    In Response

    by: A Davis from: DallasTX
    October 11, 2014 1:47 AM
    It's my understanding that ISIL took the weapons left in Iraq that came from the USA. A total waste of billions, plus lives lost because of Maliki's indifference to the USA. When idiots are running a country, stupidity happens. I hope this new President in Iraq has far greater leadership abilities.

    by: BubbleHead from: Earth
    October 10, 2014 9:20 PM
    Turkey has supported ISIL with tanks and other weapons paid to ISIL to win freedom of Turkish citizens trapped in Iraq as ISIL swept across Iraq unopposed. Do some research and the truth can be discovered. They were old and outdated weapons, but more than enough in the hands of battle hardened fighters from the bloodbath of the Syrian civil war. Be careful Turkey... You're not immune from the violence and spread of islamic extremism. In a year or less ISIL will be spreading through Turkey. Turkish soldiers will be slaughtered and turning sides. Mark my words.

    by: Buddha from: USA
    October 10, 2014 9:11 PM
    Turkey not letting help get to Kobani makes me wonder if they are a Nato ally or an Isis ally. Inaction is the same as taking action. Turkey will have blood and shame on their hands. Obama has underestimated this situation from the beginning and many people have died because of it. So many red lines crossed in Syria and no action taken and more lives have been lost. Let's be honest about all the inactivity being nothing more than lives lost.
    In Response

    by: Krishna from: Nirvana
    October 12, 2014 7:34 PM
    lol, In a mission to save Syria from its own monsters. The US said, Kobani had no importance not even shed of moral outcry. Then we have two faced, forked tongue people with crocodile tears giving lecture with intellectually dishonest statement. Wow VOA you sure pick them. hahaha.
    In Response

    by: A S Davisi from: TX BBQ
    October 12, 2014 6:58 PM
    Lol, so thousand dying makes US guilty of them? Broken logic. I didn't know the greatest nation in the world can't save the world haha. So funny, so pathetic.
    In Response

    by: A Davis from: DallasTX
    October 11, 2014 1:51 AM
    I understand Obama's position in that he wants these mid eastern countries to have cohesion with the various factions within their country. They need to learn tolerance and work out their own problems. We can't save the world. We're bankrupct from doing that already. But muslim countries need to rally around their muslim brothers and sisters. Shame on Turkey. They sound like cowards to me. Turkey's President said he'd go in with ground troops IF someone else would go. I think he's afraid of dealing with ISIL but what about those who are giving their lives daily in Kobani? They don't know what cowardice is. God bless them all. I pray for a miracle. They surely need it.

    by: un-jihadhi john from: Canada
    October 10, 2014 8:57 PM
    I have always been a huge supporter of USA in their "outward" appearance if being the protector of the oppressed and persecuted...

    I believe my faith in the USA is slipping in this incidence...
    There is absolutely NO reason they have not dropped weapons or ammunition in the least, it is sickening.
    Turkey should be abandoned by NATO for their despicable lying. THIS is the way they gallantly rescued their precious 40 hostages beyond a shadow of a doubt.
    "Give us our hostages, and we will step aside while you slaughter Kurds", who also happen to be the only Arabs in this conflict with an ounce of honor.
    Long live Kurdistan.

    OUT OF NATO NOW!!! TURKEY IS THE SILENT ENEMY OF THE WEST
    In Response

    by: Link from: Paritan
    October 13, 2014 5:04 AM
    So you have biased view of US role in world conflict? I love how US disregard of the situation doesn't evoke your moral outrage? Rather bias. So the US must be guilty of all famine, poverty and social crisis? Because it doesn't act. Funny, what has the US done in Burma? Guilty, and yet you're silent.
    In Response

    by: Philips from: Canada, lame
    October 12, 2014 7:01 PM
    lol, the first sentences highlights your ignorance, read the text books on some of its war crimes. Before giving others ethics lecture, I would worried about Canadian first nations.

    by: Anonymous
    October 10, 2014 8:41 PM
    Operation Nickel Grass was an overt strategic airlift and operation conducted by the United States to deliver weapons and supplies to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In a series of events that took place over 32 days, the Military Airlift Command of the U.S. Air Force shipped 22,325 tons of tanks, artillery, ammunition, and supplies in C-141 Starlifter and C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft between October 14 and November 14, 1973.[1] The U.S. support helped ensure that Israel survived a coordinated and surprise life-threatening attack from the Soviet-backed Arab Republic of Egypt and Syrian Arab Republic.[1] [wikipedia] ISIS is armed with weapons supplied to the Iraqi Army by the US. The Kurds need and deserve an immediate airlift of heavy weapons to fight ISIS with the same arms.
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