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US warns that air strikes alone will not stop advancement of Islamic State

A US army official has said that Syrian and Iraqi troops are needed on the ground.

A Turkish Kurd watches as air strikes hit Kobane.
A Turkish Kurd watches as air strikes hit Kobane.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE UNITED STATES has warned that air strikes alone will not stop Islamic State fighters from capturing Kobane, a town on the border of Syria and Turkey.

Rear Admiral John Kirby told AFP: “Air strikes alone are not going to do this, not going to fix this, not going to save the town of Kobane.”

Kirby said that “capable” ground forces – rebel fighters in Syria and Iraqi Government troops – would have to defeat IS.

Militants advanced further into the strategic town today, despite intensified US-led air strikes.

US officials said that coalition air strikes have destroyed an armoured personnel carrier, artillery and several vehicles belonging to IS.

Kurds

At least 19 people have been killed in Turkey in violent protests by pro-Kurdish demonstrators angry at the government’s lack of action against IS fighters in Syria.

For the first time in more than two decades, a curfew was declared in six Turkish provinces after the unrest.

In Germany, police used batons, pepper spray and water cannon as Kurds and Yazidis clashed with radical Muslims in two northern cities in violence that injured at least 23 people.

Kobane has become a symbol of resistance against IS, which proclaimed an Islamic “caliphate” across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Last Friday, the militant group released footage of one of their members beheading UK aid worker Alan Henning.

200,000 people have fled

The three-week assault on Kobane has sent some 200,000 people flooding across the border into Turkey.

Activist Mustafa Ebdi told AFP: ”There are 1,000 civilians who refuse to leave.”

“One of them, aged 65, said to me: “Where would we go? Dying here is better than dying on the road.’”

An IS fighter carried out a suicide truck bombing in east Kobane today, but there was no immediate news of casualties, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Observatory says about 400 people, more than half of them jihadists, have been killed in and around Kobane since the assault began in mid-September.

More than 180,000 people have been killed in Syria since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime began in 2011, morphing into a several-sided civil war that has drawn thousands of jihadists from overseas.

Additional reporting: Órla Ryan

Read: This is how close ISIS is to crossing into Turkey

Read: Now IS has advanced to the Turkish border – and planted its flag there

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