Kurds, US say airstrikes are helping Kobane

2014-10-12 17:49
Female members of the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan (SPA) shout slogans and wave banners against the presence of US and Nato troops in their country and against the militant Islamic State group, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Massoud Hossaini, AP)

Female members of the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan (SPA) shout slogans and wave banners against the presence of US and Nato troops in their country and against the militant Islamic State group, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Massoud Hossaini, AP)

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Istanbul / Ciaro - A senior Kurdish official said on Sunday that the latest US airstrikes around the besieged town of Kobane have been "very useful", while the United States said "some progress" has been made against Islamic State (ISIS) extremists in the area.

"Clashes today are not as fierce as they were yesterday," the Kobane administration's deputy foreign minister, Idris Nassan, told dpa. "The latest airstrikes were very, very useful.

"Kurdish forces are still at the same places as yesterday and trying to push IS back," Nassan said, adding that improved cooperation was still needed with the US-led coalition against ISIS.

He added that ammunition and weapons are still a problem for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), as they face ISIS fighters armed with heavy artillery and armoured vehicles captured from Iraqi and Syrian army bases.

Turkish authorities will not allow military supplies through the Mursitpinar crossing, Kobane's only lifeline, due to the YPG's links with Turkish Kurdish rebels.

Speaking at a press conference in Chile on Saturday local time, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said that despite the progress, the situation remained dangerous, with ISIS fighters still holding strategic positions on the town's outskirts.

"We are doing what we can do through our airstrikes to help drive back ISIL [Islamic State]," he said.

Hagel also said his country had made considerable progress in talks with Turkish officials over plans for Ankara to train moderate Syrian rebels and provide equipment in the fight against ISIS.

Turkey has ruled out any unilateral ground intervention on Syrian soil.

Fighting in Kobane has forced more than 200 000 people to flee to Turkey, according to the government in Ankara. The entire region has been depopulated of its Kurdish residents.

The EU said it will give €3.9m to support refugees from Kobane.

The money, from a European aid budget of €150m for the Syrian crisis, will help provide clean water, shelter and medicine to refugees, as well as ensure sanitation and food services, the European Commission said.

The military leaders of the US-led coalition against the jihadists are due to hold strategy meetings in Washington on Monday and Tuesday.

More than 20 military leaders are set to attend the high-level meeting, which will begin late on Monday with a dinner and continue at Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed.

A joint mission to train moderate Syrian rebels will be one of the topics under discussion at the first such meeting since the coalition first launched airstrikes on ISIS positions in neighbouring Iraq in early August.

The report came as bomb attacks in Iraq killed a senior police commander and a number of Kurdish officials.

In Qara Tepe, north-east of Baghdad, three car bombs hit a local government building, a Kurdish security base and the offices of a Kurdish political party, security officials said, putting the toll at 14 dead and 20 injured.

Iraqi news site Alsumaria, quoting local sources, reported that the victims at Qara Tepe included Kurdish officials. It put the toll at 10 dead and 40 injured.

One of the bombings was carried out by a German suicide attacker, the Kurdish Gorran Party and US-based monitoring group Site Intelligence Group reported.

General Ahmed Sadak, the police chief in restive western al-Anbar province, was killed when a bomb hit his convoy, Interior Ministry officials told dpa.

The head of al-Anbar's provincial council meanwhile called on Baghdad to send urgent reinforcements to security forces to the regional capital Ramadi.

ISIS forces launched an assault on the city from three directions, Sabah Karhout said.

Experts have warned that ISIS advances in al-Anbar threaten to cut off the remaining security forces in the province, which stretches from the outskirts of Baghdad to the border with the jihadist-controlled Syrian province of Deir al-Zour.

The provincial council on Friday called for international forces to be sent to help defend the area.

Read more on:    isis  |  syria

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