MURSITPINAR, Turkey (dpa) – Islamic State (IS) fighters were pushing Wednesday for control of the eastern districts of Kobane, as a stream of gravely injured Kurdish defenders were brought across the Turkish border for treatment.
Speaking on the phone from inside Kobane as machinegun fire echoed in the background, Kurdish activist Farhad al-Shami said that fierce battles were taking place in the east of the town.
“Islamic State fighters have launched a wide-scale attack to stretch their control on the whole (eastern) area of Kani Araban,” he told dpa. Warplanes and reconnaissance aircraft were hovering over the area, al-Shami said, adding that during the night the US-led coalition launched 13 or 14 airstrikes on eastern and southwestern sectors of Kobane.
At the border village of Mursitpinar, a Kurdish fighter who had crossed into Turkey said that the situation was “far worse than people think.”
“We have lost many fighters. Many people are injured and are still inside, they haven’t been able to get out,” the fighter, who declined to give his name, said.
An ambulance driver said that more and more injured Kurdish fighters were appearing at the border, and there were not enough ambulances to bring them to hospital.
The fighter said that the IS had moved even closer to the centre of the beleaguered town, at the heart of a Kurdish enclave which has been almost entirely overrun by the militants in a three week offensive.
US-led coalition planes overnight raided militants positions on the strategic hill of Mishte Nur, which overlooks the city, destroying ammunition depots, Kurdish news site Welati reported.
Refugees crossing into Turkey told dpa that the town and surrounding villages were all but empty of inhabitants, who had fled to the border as the militants closed in on the enclave. Kobane’s defence chief Tuesday put the number of refugees stranded at the border at between 1,000 and 1,500. Many have been unwilling to leave their livestock and vehicles behind in order to cross over.
The New York Times reported that Washington was concerned by Turkey’s reluctance to engage IS militants in the Kobane area.
“There’s growing angst about Turkey dragging its feet to act to prevent a massacre less than a mile from its border,” an unnamed senior administration official was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
“After all the fulminating about Syria’s humanitarian catastrophe, (Turkey is) inventing reasons not to act to avoid another catastrophe,” the official said.
“This isn’t how a NATO ally acts while hell is unfolding a stone’s through from their border.” US Secretary of State John Kerry has called Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu twice since Monday, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, as Washington urges Turkey to take action.