Islamic State fighters enter Syrian town of Kobani

OCTOBER 7, 2014

Islamic State ((S) fighters backed by tanks and artillery have pushed into Kobani, an embattled and strategically important Syrian town on the border with Turkey, triggering heavy street battles with the town’s Kurdish defenders.

Hours after two IS flags were raised on the outskirts of Kobani, the militants punctured the Kurdish front lines and advanced into the town itself, said the Local Co-ordination Committees activist collective and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“They’re fighting inside the city. Hundreds of civilians have left,” said Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman. “Islamic State controls three neighbourhoods on the eastern side of Kobani. They are trying to enter the town from the southwest as well.”

The centre of the town was still in Kurdish hands, Abdurrahman said. Kurdish officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Since it began its offensive in mid-September, Isis has barrelled through one Kurdish village after another as it closed in on its main target: the town of Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab.

The assault has forced 160,000 Syrians to flee and put a strain on Kurdish forces, who have struggled to hold off the extremists even with the aid of US-led air strikes.

Capturing Kobani would give Isis a direct link between its positions in the Syrian province of Aleppo and its stronghold of Raqqa to the east. It would crush a lingering pocket of resistance and give the group full control of a large stretch of the Turkish-Syrian border.

Photo caption: A convoy of vehicles and fighters from the Islamic State roll through Iraq's Anbar Province on Jan. 7. Image: Mashable.