Fighting continues in the Syrian border town of Kobane, as Kurdish fighters said a US-led air campaign had dislodged fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from the town.
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from the Turkish side of the border near Kobane, said on Friday he could hear explosions and gunfire from inside the town as ISIL was shelling it.
He said ISIL fighters were still present in the south and the east of the Kobane and were believed to hold around a third of the town, knows as Ain al-Arab in Arabic.
Fighting for the town has raged since the middle of September, when ISIL managed to capture dozens of surrounding villages. More than 200,000 have crossed the border into Turkey to escape the violence.
“The longer Kurdish fighters have managed to hold Kobane the more determined ISIL seems to be to take it,” our correspondent said.
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“Thousands of fighters have been sent as reinforcements. The US military says that has meant more targets for them to hit, partly explaining the increase in air strikes.
“The pendulum may have swung in favour of Kobane’s Kurds for now, but the battle is far from over.”
The US said it had killed hundreds of ISIL fighters trying to capture the town in 53 air strikes since Monday.
Kurdish forces welcomed the raids, saying they had helped them defend the town, but more was needed to fully defeat the group.
Idris Nassen, a Kurdish official in Kobane, said: “We need more air strikes, as well as weaponry and ammunition to fight them on the ground.
“If we get extra weapons we need this could be over soon – but if it’s only air strikes then this will be a long battle unfortunately.”
Kurdish forces have also suffered heavy losses. As of Wednesday, ground clashes alone had killed 662 people since September 16, including 20 civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
ISIL lost 374 fighters, while 268 people have been killed fighting on the Kurdish side, according to the UK-based monitoring group.