Islamic State fighters have launched a renewed assault on the Syrian border town of Kobani, despite US-led air strikes that Pentagon admitted would probably not be enough to safeguard the town, Reuters reported.
In neighboring Turkey, at least 21 people were killed in riots as Kurds rose up against the government for doing nothing to protect their relatives defending the border city.
Washington said its war planes, along with those of coalition ally the United Arab Emirates, had struck nine targets in Syria, including six near Kobani that hit Islamic State artillery and armored vehicles. It also struck Islamic State positions in Iraq five times.
But US officials, acknowledging it will be hard to shield Kobani from the air, have played down its strategic importance.
“Air strikes alone are not going to do this. They’re not going to fix this. They’re not going to save the town of Kobani. We know that,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told a news briefing.
Secretary of State John Kerry said: “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.”
Islamic State militants continued their advance on the town, pounding it with artillery despite dogged resistance from heavily outgunned Kurdish forces. Meanwhile, Turkish tanks stood by at the nearby frontier without doing anything to help.
Turkey has refused to participate in the coalition against Islamic State, saying it could join only if Washington agrees to use force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Sunni Muslim jihadists fighting him in a three-year-old civil war.
“Tonight, [Islamic State] has entered two districts with heavy weapons including tanks. Civilians may have died because there are very intense clashes,” Asya Abdullah, co-chair of the Democratic Union Party, the main Kurdish group defending the area, told Reuters from inside Kobani.
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