Kurdish fighters have faced a series of car bombings in Kobani as Islamic State forces change tactics in their attempt to take control of key central neighbourhoods in the pivotal border town.
The militants detonated four car bombs on Saturday, and a fifth was destroyed by a coalition airstrike before it reached its target. YPG, the Kurdish militia, managed to identify and repel several more attacks.
The long-range artillery assaults that Islamic State (Isis) deployed during the first days of the fight for Kobani, on the Syrian-Turkish border, have largely been replaced by gun battles in the town streets. Even so, crowds watching the battle from a hillside in Turkey were forced to move yesterday afternoon after three shells landed near by.
“This is the strategy they are using now,” said Idris Nassan, a Kobani official. “They are using car bombs to push into places where they want to progress, to cause chaos and confuse the YPG fighters. They are preparing around ten car bombs every day.”
The battle for control of the besieged town has reverberated across the region. Turkey was gripped by the deadliest riots in a decade last week as Kurds demonstrating against the Turkish government’s refusal to intervene triggered clashes in which 34 people died.
President Erdogan of Turkey moved to crack down on protesters at the weekend, promising to “cleanse the streets of vandals” with laws expected to make it illegal for them to cover their faces. He said that hardline Islamists and Turkish ultra-nationalist protesters were “attacking the peace, stability and fraternity in Turkey under the protext of Kobani”. He added: “What does Kobani have to do with Turkey?”
(Photo: Clouds rise after an airstrike by US-led coalition forces on Kobani as Turkish troops patrol nearby)