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Syrian Kurds fighting for the autonomous socialist Rojava state said yesterday they had halted the advance of Islamic State (Isis) fanatics in Kobane canton, near Turkey.
But heavy clashes were ongoing east of Kobane city, a Rojava spokesman confirmed.
Kobane Premier Anwar Moslem has warned that Isis is laying siege to the territory “with tanks, artillery and Humvees [US-made armoured cars] they seized in Mosul.”
The news came as Turkey said that the number of Syrians who had crossed the border in the last four days had hit 130,000.
Refugees reported that Isis warriors were beheading captives, burning homes and stoning women to death in villages they had seized in northern Syria.
“This is not a natural disaster. We are faced with a man-made disaster,” said Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus.
“An uncontrollable force on the other side of the border is attacking civilians.”
But he did not acknowledge Turkey’s role in fomenting the crisis by allowing Islamist fighters and weapon-smugglers to flood across its border into Syria over the last three years.
Nor did he confront Rojava residents’ accusations that trains full of weaponry arrived in Isis-held territory from Turkey shortly before the latest offensive.
Turkey has made no secret of its wish to see Syria’s secular Bashar al-Assad government fall and rumours that it has an understanding with the terrorist organisation have been fuelled by Isis’s surprise release of 46 Turkish hostages on Saturday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to divulge what prompted Isis to give up its captives, merely saying “there are things we cannot talk about.”
Mr Moslem said that Rojava would keep resisting Isis “till the last one of us gets martyred” but has issued a desperate call for international support.
People’s protection units battling to defend their villages from the extremist group had “not received any assistance,” he said in an interview with Kurdish affairs analyst Mutlu Civiroglu.
nIsis spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani called yesterday for the murder of civilians from any country that sent forces to fight the extremist group.
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