World Bulletin/News Desk
Kurdish forces appear to be holding out against ISIL militants in the Syrian border town of Kobani, the U.S. military said on Thursday, following fresh U.S. airstrikes in the area against a militant training camp and fighters.
"U.S. Central Command continues to monitor the situation in Kobani closely. Indications are that Kurdish militia there continue to control most of the city and are holding out against ISIL," it said, using an acronym for ISIL.
The statement comes as a monitoring group said on Thursday the U.S.-led airstrikes have failed to halt the advance of ISIL fighters, who it said have seized more than a third of Kobani, near the Syrian border with Turkey.
The five latest U.S. airstrikes, conducted Wednesday and Thursday, damaged an ISIL training camp and destroyed one of the militant group's support buildings as well as two vehicles, U.S. Central Command said. They also hit one large unit and one small unit of militant fighters, it added.
The U.S. bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft used in the attacks left the area safely, according to the statement.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the country's civil war, said clashes continued into Thursday morning as the forces of ISIL - still widely known by its former acronym of ISIS - pushed forward.
"ISIS control more than a third of Kobani. All eastern areas, a small part of the northeast and an area in the southeast," the Observatory's head, Rami Abdulrahman, said by telephone.
An explosion was heard on Thursday on the western side of the mainly Kurdish town, with thick black smoke visible from the Turkish border a few kilometres (miles) away. The sound of a jet flying overhead and sporadic gunfire from the besieged town was audible. Several ambulances sped from the border to the town of Suruc in Turkey.
ISIL hoisted its black flag on the eastern edge of Kobani on Monday. Since then, the air strikes have been redoubled but failed to halt the advance.
In Washington, the Pentagon cautioned that there are limits to what the air strikes can do in Syria before Western-backed, moderate Syrian opposition forces are strong enough to repel ISIL. U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending American ground forces on a combat mission there.
Kurds have complained that Washington is giving only token support through its air strikes, which are focused in Iraq where the United States works with the Iraqi Army.
Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday: "As horrific as it is to watch in real time what is happening in Kobani ... you have to step back and understand the strategic objective."
PROTESTS IN TURKEY
The death toll from ongoing illegal pro-Kurdish protests in Turkey has risen to 25 after a man died after being seriously injured in demonstrations in Turkey’s southeastern province of Siirt.
The nationwide protests broke out after ISIL militants penetrated the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, known as Ayn al-Arab, on Monday.
The protesters have used the pretext that the Turkish government has allegedly done nothing to halt the relentless advance of the militant group in the Syrian city, which has become a scene of fierce street battles between Kurdish groups and ISIL militants.
The Istanbul governorate announced that 66 people were detained in Istanbul alone, adding that 52 people including three police officers had been wounded during the clashes.
Wednesday's clashes between protesters, many of whom showed their support for the outlawed PKK, and security forces erupted in Agri, Van, Bitlis, Mersin, Kars, Bursa, Aydin, Istanbul, Izmir, Hakkari, Antalya, Diyarbakır, Siirt, Batman, Adiyaman and Tunceli provinces.
Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse pro-Kurdish protesters across the country who had set up barricades, set fire to buses and cars and attacked police with fireworks and stones.
Late Wednesday, Turkish police clashed with a group of masked people who threw stones and fireworks at them in Istanbul's Beyoglu district.
They also set fire to a barricade they had made from trucks and automobile tires.
Police forces had to intervene against the group with high-pressure water hoses and tear gas.
There were also clashes in Okmeydani district and the Gazi neighborhood of Istanbul as protesters blocked the main streets with barricades.
In Ankara, a group of people staged a sit-in protest and blocked traffic near a main square.
They were dispersed with tear gas after they threw rocks at police.
Three people were wounded during demonstrations in Bingol province and three police officers also were wounded in Yalova province.
A police officer and a soldier were injured during protests in Siirt.
The provincial governorates of Batman, Siirt and Mardin have removed curfews in their five districts, while Diyarbakir imposed an evening curfew on Thursday.
Turkish officials have said the country was against supporting Kurdish PYD fighters in Kobani with military and financial aid, even if they are fighting against ISIL.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as by the U.S. and the European Union.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Ekim 2014, 16:16