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Air Strikes Hit IS Targets Near Syrian Border Town

October 04, 2014

The U.S.-led coalition has carried out fresh air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants near the Turkish border in northern Syria as IS fighters pressed their offensive against the Syrian border town of Kobani.

Syrian activists said five militants were killed by the overnight air strikes on the outskirts of the predominantly Kurdish town.

The air strikes came after IS forces fired dozens of shells into Kobani on October 3.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, said at least 60 mortar rounds were launched against Kurdish positions in the city.

The observatory said a Chechen IS fighter was leading the assault on the strategic town.

Kobani's capture by IS fighters would provide a direct link between areas under their control in Syria's Aleppo and their stronghold in Raqqa to the east.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said on October 4 that 25 IS fighters were killed by air strikes near the town of Shadadi in the northeastern province of Hasakeh.

Meanwhile, Turkish Kurds and Kurdish refugees from Syria clashed with Turkish security forces on the border between the two countries.

Troops used tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters who are angry about the situation in Syria and accuse Turkey of allowing IS militants to cross the border in order to fight Kurds there.

The fighting around Kobani has prompted the exodus of some 300,000 people in the past weeks. Many have sought refuge in Turkey.

The developments come amid a Turkish-U.S. dispute over Ankara's alleged support for IS militants.

Speaking at Harvard University on October 3, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden criticized Turkey and U.S. allies in the Arab world for having supported Sunni militant groups such as IS.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 4 responded to reports about those remarks, telling journalists: 'If Mr. Biden used such language, that would make him a man of the past for me. No one can accuse Turkey of having supported any terrorist organization in Syria, including IS.'

Ankara has fought its own war against Kurdish rebels in southeastern Turkey for more than three decades.

With reporting by BBC, AFP, AP, Reuters, and dpa

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/islamic-state- air-strikes-henning-cameron/26620606.html

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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