Islamic State fighters launch fresh attack on Kobani


Islamic State fighters on Saturday launched fresh attacks in the Syrian border town of Kobane in an attempt to encircle the Kurdish defenders.

The IS militants attacked western parts of the town but are yet to take the border crossing point with Turkey which is a vital supply and exit route.

The US-led coalition is continuing air strikes against IS but the Kurds say they urgently need more weapons and ammunition while the US has itself said that air strikes alone may not be able to save Kobane from IS.

Separately in Iraq, officials in western Anbar province made an urgent appeal for military help, saying the area could fall to Islamic State militants "in days".

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, at the Syria-Turkey border, says the Kurdish militiamen have pushed back the latest advance by Islamic State inside Kobane.

However, he says the militants are being easily resupplied from the south and the east and are able to launch further attacks.

A Syrian Kurdish official told BBC Arabic that IS had carried out intensive attacks on different areas across the south-west, south-east and east of the town.

Several hundred civilians are still believed to be in Kobane.

On Friday, UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura warned that they would "most likely be massacred" by IS if the town fell.

Ismet Sheikh Hassan, a senior member of the Kurdish forces defending Kobane, repeated those fears on Saturday.

He told Associated Press: "We want a corridor to be opened, to evacuate the civilians. If [IS] enter the city centre, there will be a massacre.

"There are air strikes, but they are not that effective. It has been 26 days we have been resisting. We want the international community and the United Nations to support us."

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said there had been two more air strikes on Saturday and that IS fighters had fallen back after 90 minutes of heavy fighting.

Since the IS offensive against Kobane began in mid-September, some 500 people have been killed and up to 200 000 have fled across the border into Turkey.

De Mistura called on Turkey to allow Kurdish volunteers to cross into Syria with equipment "to be able to enter the city to contribute to a self-defence operation".