Kurdish fighters have gained ground in their defence of the besieged town of Kobani against Islamic State jihadists, a senior Kurdish official says.
Idris Nassan, deputy foreign affairs minister in the Kobani administration, said that, following fierce clashes overnight, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) managed to advance into a commercial zone northeast of the city.
He added that the Kurdish fighters were also able to advance into an area southwest of Kobani ‘where they managed to push away Islamic State fighters from the area’.
The YPG claimed its forces had killed 138 jihadists in the last 48 hours in the city, which lies on Syria’s border with Turkey.
A YPG statement, carried late on Sunday by the Hawar News Agency, which has close ties to the force, stated that Islamic State fighters on the southern front used tanks, rockets and artillery ‘to attack YPG trenches, but they failed and our fighters repelled them, leaving 17 terrorists killed’.
The reported advances by the Kurdish fighters came following intensified overnight airstrikes by the US-led coalition upon areas east and south of Kobani, the Britain-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The US Joint Chiefs of Staff were due to host a meeting later on Monday with defence ministers of the coalition against the Islamic State to discuss further strategy.
As the fighting continued, Syrian Kurdish leaders were due to meet in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan for talks chaired by Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani on bridging the gap between their two main factions.
Meanwhile, in Iraq local media reported that Islamic State militants had seized an army base in the town of Heet as they continued their advance in Iraq’s western province of al-Anbar.
Troops in the base conducted a ‘tactical retreat’ to the al-Baghdadi area, taking all the base’s military equipment with them, Iraq’s Alsumaria News reported.
Iraqi news agency Al-Mada Press reported the base fell after hours of clashes.
Security forces have meanwhile evacuated detainees from prisons in and around the provincial capital of al-Ramadi to alternative detention sites in Baghdad, the Al-Mada Press reported separately.