Fierce fighting is reported today near the border between Syria and Turkey as Islamic State militants step up their efforts to capture the Kurdish city of Kobani.
Kurdish fighters defending the town have warned of a likely massacre if the extremist group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, succeeds in seizing the encircled city.
“Esmat al-Sheikh, head of the Kurdish forces defending Kobani, said the distance between his fighters and the insurgents was now less than one km (half a mile).
“We are in a small, besieged area. No reinforcements reached us and the borders are closed,” he told Reuters by phone.
“My expectation is for general killing, massacres and destruction … There is bombardment with tanks, artillery, rockets and mortars.”
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said his country would do “whatever we can” to stop Kobani from falling into the hands of ISIS.
The U.S.-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq, but it hasn’t stopped the extremist group from advancing in northern Syria near the Turkish border. Reuters says the situation is “piling pressure on Ankara to intervene.”
Australia also announced Friday that it will join the United States and other nations in airstrikes in Iraq to contain the Islamic insurgency. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, speaking in the capital, Canberra, said he expected the deployment of Australian air assets to be “certainly months rather than weeks.”
Update at 9:40 a.m. ET: Cent Com: U.S., Allies Conduct 6 Airstrikes
A statement released by the U.S. Central Command a mix of fighter jets and drones: “U.S. and partner nation military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Thursday and today using a mix of fighter and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct six airstrikes. Separately, U.S. military forces used attack aircraft today to conduct three airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq.”