December 13, 2017
Thursday, October 2, 2014

Turkey prepares for military action as ISIS advances on Syria border town

Men walk through the rubble of an oil refinary on October 2, 2014, that was reportedly targeted by the US-led coalition on September 28, in the northern Syrian town of Tal Abyad near the border with Turkey.

Turkey's parliament has authorised the government to order military action against Islamic State as the insurgents tightened their grip on a Syrian border town, sending thousands more Kurdish refugees into Turkey.

The vote gives the government powers to order incursions into Syria and Iraq to counter the threat of attack "from all terrorist groups", although there was little sign that any such action was imminent.

The mandate also allows foreign troops to launch operations from Turkey, a NATO member which hosts a US air base in its southern town of Incirlik, but which has so far resisted a frontline role in the military campaign against the insurgents.

"The rising influence of radical groups in Syria threatens Turkey's national security... The aim of this mandate is to minimise as much as possible the impact of the clashes on our borders," Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz told parliament.

Islamic State fighters advanced to within a few kilometres of the mainly Kurdish border town of Kobani on three sides on Thursday, extending their gains after taking control of hundreds of villages around the town in recent weeks.

Smoke rose behind hills to the south of Kobani as the insurgents continued their shelling into the night. Dozens of anti-tank missiles with bright-red tracers flashed through the sky as darkness enveloped the town.

Kobani's electricity supply was cut after militants bombarded a local power grid, a Kurdish fighter told Reuters.

In neighbouring Iraq, which also borders Turkey, the insurgents have carried out mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used children as fighters in what may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said.

They took control of most of the western Iraqi town of Hit early today in Anbar province, where they already control many surrounding towns, launching the assault with three suicide car bombs at its eastern entrance.

US-led forces, which have been bombing Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, hit a village near Kobani yesterday. Sources in the town, which is known as Ayn al-Arab in Arabic, reported strikes further south overnight.

But they seemed to do little to stop the Islamists' advance.

"We left because we realised it was only going to get worse," said Leyla, a 37-year-old Syrian arriving at the Yumurtalik border crossing with her six children after waiting 10 days in a field, hoping the clashes would subside.

"We will go back tomorrow if Islamic State leaves. I don't want to be here," she said.

Kurdish militants in Turkey warned that peace talks with Ankara, meant to end a three-decade insurgency, would collapse if the Islamist insurgents were allowed to carry out a massacre.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors Syria's war, said Islamic State militants were clashing with Kurdish fighters hundreds of metres from Kobani, raising fears they would enter the town "at any moment".

It said it had confirmed the deaths of 16 Islamic State fighters and seven Kurdish militants but that the true toll was likely to be higher.

About 20 explosions were heard in the areas of the Tishrin dam and town of Manbij 50 km  south of Kobani overnight, resulting from missile strikes believed to be carried out by the coalition, the Observatory said earlier.

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Tags:  Syria  Islamic State  US  attacks  Turkey  

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