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U.S. Says Kurds Hold Majority Of Kobani

October 21, 2014

The U.S. military says Kurdish fighters remain in control of most of the Syrian border town of Kobani and Islamic State militants have failed to advance in the past several days.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said on October 21 that the situation was still 'tenuous' but Kurdish forces were holding their ground and U.S. air strikes had slowed the IS offensive.

Kirby said IS forces continue to 'threaten' Kobani and still had fighters in 'some strength' in parts of the town.

He also said that in Iraq, local security forces are beginning to make some headway against Islamic State forces.

Kirby told a news briefing in Washington that the Pentagon has spent $424 million so far in its military campaign against the IS group in Syria and Iraq, amounting to an average of about $7.6 million a day on air strikes and support missions like surveillance flights.

U.S. aircraft kept up raids overnight in support of the Kurds, after American C-130 cargo planes dropped arms, ammunition, and medical supplies to the Kurdish forces early October 20.

However, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which bases its information on a network of activists on the ground, said the militants had seized at least one cache of weapons.

Seized Weapons

A video uploaded by a media group loyal to IS appeared to show that the cache included hand grenades, ammunition, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Kirby confirmed that it is possible that at least one of 28 weapons caches airdropped by the U.S. military and meant for Kurdish fighters in Kobani may have inadvertently fallen into the hands of IS militants.

The IS jihadists already possess millions of dollars-worth of U.S. armaments that they captured from fleeing Iraqi soldiers when the group seized swaths of Iraq in a sudden offensive in June.

On the ground in Kobani, witnesses and monitors said that fighting appeared to have diminished after a fierce attack late October 20 by IS fighters, including suicide bombers.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said IS forces in the east of the town were exchanging fire with Kurdish militia in the west and there were reports of an explosion, probably a car bomb.

Kobani, located near the Turkish border, has become the focus of world attention and turned into a high-stakes symbol in the war against IS.

The Islamic State group is fighting to expand areas under its control in Iraq and Syria while a U.S.-led coalition is carrying out air strikes in a bid to halt their advance.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/iraq-syria-is/26649099.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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