al jazeera

al jazeera

ISIL pushes forward on besieged Syrian town

6h ago
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The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is continuing to push its attempts to control a key Syrian border town despite resistance from local fighters and US-led air attacks. Fighting raged on Saturday between ISIL and Kurdish fighters in Kobane, with artillery fire pounding the southwestern areas, a day after ISIL fired at least 80 mortar rounds into the town and advanced to its outskirts. Al Jazeera's correspondent Bernard Smith said he could hear artillery bursts and gunfire from his position in Suruc in Turkey, about 6km from Kobane. An Al Jazeera correspondent reported that ISIL on Friday night attempted four times to storm the town from the east side, but US-led air attacks stopped the advances and killed dozens of its fighters. The US central command said on Saturday that it had bombed four ISIL positions around Kobane, including an ISIL logistics site in Hasakeh, artillery positions east of Kobane, and vehicles to the south of the town. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group, said the attacks killed at least 35 ISIL fighters. Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the figure. Syrian Kurdish fighters have been battling ISIL around Kobane and its surrounding areas since mid-September, after ISIL captured dozens of nearby Kurdish villages. The fighting around Kobane has prompted a mass exodus of residents from Kobane and the surrounding countryside, with the Observatory estimating around 300,000 people have been displaced. Many of those, at least 186,000 according to the Turkish government, have fled over the border into Turkey. The main western-backed Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, reiterated its warning of potential massacres in the area. "[ISIL] are tightening the noose on the town besieged from three sides, using the same tactics applied by the Assad regime to storm the towns and villages after heavy random bombardment," said Havaron Sharif, a coalition spokesman. "[We] condemn the systematic displacement and the massacres being committed by mobs and bandits."