As the vigorous battle continues, more fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have advanced deeper into the embattled Syrian town of Kobane, taking control of more than 40 percent of territory, a group monitoring the violence has said.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the country’s civil war, said on Friday that ISIL had “taken at least 40 percent [of the town].”
Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory through a network of activists on the ground, said ISIL were in almost complete control of the “security quarter”, which is home to administrative buildings used by the local government.
However, a Kurdish military official earlier denied any major advance by the group, telling the Reuters news agency that clashes between ISIL and Kurdish fighters were still ongoing.
Ocalan Iso, deputy head of the Kurdish forces, said ISIL was still bombarding the town centre with mortars, showing that its fighters had not extended their control over more than 20 percent of the town.
“There are fierce clashes and they are bombing the centre of Kobane from afar,” he said.
ISIL’s advance has brought the front line to just 1.3km from the Syrian-Turkey border, despite US-led air strikes targeting the group’s positions.
The US military said it conducted nine airstrikes against ISIL positions in Syria in the past two days, including seven near Kobane, destroying two training facilities, vehicles and two small units.
Despite intensified air strikes, the UN envoy to Syria has warned of a looming “massacre” in Kobane, as thousands of civilians remain trapped in the besieged town.
Staffan de Mistura said on Friday that a UN analysis of the situation on the ground showed that only a small portion of the town remained open for people to enter or flee Kobane.
If the town falls to ISIL, “we know what they are capable of doing,” said the Italian-Swedish diplomat, who was appointed to the UN post in July.
The civilians of Kobane “will be most likely massacred,” de Mistura said.
He said there were about 500 to 700 elderly people and other civilians trapped there while 10,000 to 13,000 remained stuck in an area nearby, close to the border.
The onslaught has forced more than 200,000 to flee across the border into Turkey.