A Turkish army patrol on the border with Syria. Photo: AFP.
GAZIANTEP, Turkey – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Tuesday that “Kobane is about to fall,” and that airstrikes are not enough to save the Kurdish town in Syria from being overrun by the Islamic State (ISIS).
"I am telling the West: dropping bombs from the air will not provide a solution," Erdogan said on a visit to a refugee camp in the eastern city of Gaziantep, across the border from Kobane.
“Months have passed but no results have been achieved. Kobane is about to fall," Erdogan warned in an address to refugees, most of them Kurds from Kobane who fled renewed ISIS assaults about three weeks ago.
His comments came as US-led coalition warplanes intensified air strikes around Kobane on Tuesday, hours after the jihadists had breached the city lines.
A Rudaw reporter saw two air strikes within 15 minutes hit meters from the Turkish frontier, as fighter jets roared overhead. Several other strikes were reported earlier in the day.
The US Central Command (Centcom) said in a statement that jets had struck the militants, also known as ISIL, in several hits.
“An airstrike south of Kobane destroyed three ISIL armed vehicles and damaged another, and another strike southeast of Kobane destroyed an ISIL armed vehicle carrying anti-aircraft artillery,” Centcom said.
“Two airstrikes southwest of Kobane damaged an ISIL tank, and another strike south of Kobane destroyed an ISIL unit,” it added.
The siege on Kobane has heaped pressure on Turkey to intervene in defence of the Kurds but so far it has been reluctant to get involved militarily, despite pledges not to allow the town to be overrun.
Ankara has conditioned its support in the coalition fighting the militants to a comprehensive plan that would include ousting the regime of Bashar Assad.
Ankara says it will not get involved unless a no-fly zone and "safe havens" are established in northern Syria, a demand Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu repeated late on Monday.
Meanwhile, an official of the self-declared Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Syria, speaking from inside Kobane by telephone, told Rudaw that air strikes on two ISIS positions in the morning had helped ease the pressure on the town's defenders.
ISIS militants pushed into Kobane overnight, waging street battles with the town's Kurdish defenders for the first time and raising fears it could fall to the jihadists following a weeks-long siege.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, said the militants had captured two areas as night fell on Monday in the east of the town after heavy battles with Kurdish forces known as People's Protection Units or YPG.