American-led forces sharply intensified air strikes against Islamic State fighters threatening Kurds on Syria’s Turkish border on Monday and Tuesday after the jihadists’ advance began to destabilise Turkey.
The coalition had conducted 21 attacks on the militants near the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani over the past two days and appeared to have slowed Islamic State advances there, the U.S. military said, but cautioned that the situation remained fluid.
War on the militants in Syria is threatening to unravel a delicate peace in neighbouring Turkey where Kurds are furious with Ankara over its refusal to help protect their kin in Syria.
The plight of the Syrian Kurds in Kobani provoked riots among Turkey’s 15 million Kurds last week in which at least 35 people were killed.
Turkish warplanes were reported to have attacked Kurdish rebel targets in southeast Turkey after the army said it had been attacked by the banned PKK Kurdish militant group, risking reigniting a three-decade conflict that killed 40,000 people before a cease-fire was declared two years ago.
Kurds inside Kobani said the U.S.-led strikes on Islamic State had helped, but that the militants, who have besieged the town for weeks, were still on the attack.
“Today there were air strikes throughout the day, which is a first. And sometimes we saw one plane carrying out two strikes, dropping two bombs at a time,” said Abdulrahman Gok, a journalist with a local Kurdish paper who is inside the town.