ISIL closes in on border town with Turkey

ISIL fighters close in on the key Kurdish town of Kobane, as Turkey considers sending troops to both Iraq and Syria.

Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have closed in on a key Kurdish town in Syria, next to the border with Turkey, prompting the government in Ankara to deploy tanks to protect its territory.

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Suruc close to Turkey’s southern border, said ISIL fighters had moved within 2km of Kobane.

Turkish tanks and armoured vehicles had taken up positions near its border on Monday, after shells and mortar bombs from Syria hit Turkish villages.

At least 15 tanks were positioned, some with their guns pointing towards Syrian territory. 

Intensified shelling in and around Kobane has angered Kurds on the Turkish side of the border, who said the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan was not doing enough to stop the assault.

Smith said Erdogan’s prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, was expected to meet military commanders on Tuesday to spell out Turkey’s strategy against ISIL.

“The prime minister is expected to present two motions to parliament authorising Turkish forces to operate in both Iraq and Syria, and to allow foreign forces to use Turkish soil in operations againct ISIL,” he said.

The government previously said it would submit motions to parliament authorising armed forces to take action in Iraq and Syria, so Ankara could join the US-led coalition against the IS fighters.

Turkey had previously refused to join a broad anti-ISIL coalition led by the US while dozens of its citizens, including diplomats and children, were being held after being abducted from the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Turks were released earlier this month.

Air strikes

Activists reported US-led coalition air raids on Tuesday attacking three ISIL-held villages 8km west of Kobane, and one air attack targeting an ISIL base in the eastern suburb of Kobane.

On Monday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said air strikes had hit mills and grain storage areas in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, in an area also controlled by ISIL.

Strikes on a building on a road leading out of the town also killed a number of ISIL fighters, said Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the observatory, which gathers information from sources in Syria.

The US military said on Monday that a US air strike targeted ISIL vehicles in a staging area adjacent to a grain storage facility near Manbij.

The observatory reported that 10 air raids also targeted various parts of the province of Idlib, killing at least one child and six others, including five members of the same family.

Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the reports.

The purported civilian casualties would add to the 19 civilians that the observatory says have already been killed in raids against the group.