Intensified US air attacks have pounded ISIL targets in and near the Syrian border town of Kobane for a third day, with 14 reported in the last 24 hours, as Kurdish commanders asked for more weapons to push the group back.
The attacks on Wednesday and Thursday appear to have slowed the group’s advances, but “the security situation on the ground in Kobane remains tenuous,” the US defence department said in a statement on Thursday.
Targets hit included 19 buildings, two command posts, three fighting positions and three sniper positions, it added. The US said the attacks had brought to 53 the number of raids in and around Kobane since Monday.
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, who is at the border between Syria and Turkey, reported at least five heavy bombardments late Thursday afternoon.
“Those air strikes have enabled Kurdish fighters in Kobane to regain ground that they have lost to ISIL,” he said.
The US defence department said on Wednesday the air strikes had killed several hundred Islamic State fighters, it cautioned that the town could still fall to the group, which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria.
“The more they want it, the more resources they apply to it, the more targets we have to hit,” John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary said, adding: “We know we’ve killed several hundred of them.”
However, an unnamed Syrian Kurdish official told the AP news agency that his fighters needed weapons to beat ISIL on the ground, and that air strikes were not enough – a common call since the US-led coaltion began its bombing campaign.
On Thursday, the US central command, which commands US forces in the Middle East, said the latest attacks were designed to disrupt ISIL’s reinforcement and resupply efforts and to prevent it from “massing combat power on the Kurdish-held portions of Kobane”.
Also on Thursday, the Pentagon said talks between the US and Turkey on a possible Turkish role in combating the ISIL went “very, very well,”
“The discussions went very, very well. They did center around looking for other ways and other contributions that Turkey can commit to this,” Kirby told reporters.
“The discussions were positive, we think … our team’s coming away with, I think, a general good report here but I wouldn’t get ahead of anything Turkey may or may not do.”
Meanwhile, at least 47 people were killed and more than 120 wounded in bombings and mortar strikes blamed on ISIL across Iraq on Thursday.