Kurds Issue New Call to Arms Against Islamic State in Syria
Kurdish militants in Turkey have issued a new call to arms to defend a border town in northern Syria from advancing Islamic State (IS) fighters, and the Turkish authorities and United Nations prepared on Sunday for a surge in refugees.
About 70,000 Syrian Kurds have fled into Turkey since Friday as IS fighters seized dozens of villages close to the border and advanced on the frontier town of Ayn al-Arab, known as Kobani in Kurdish, Reuters reported.
A Kurdish commander on the ground said IS had advanced to within 15 km (9 miles) of Kobani, whose strategic location has been blocking the radical militants from consolidating their gains across northern Syria.
A Kurdish politician from Turkey who visited Kobani on Saturday said locals had told him that IS fighters were beheading people as they went from village to village.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors Syria's civil war, said clashes continued overnight, killing 10 insurgents and bringing the number of IS fighters killed to at least 39. At least 27 Kurdish fighters have died.
Islamic State has seized at least 64 villages around Kobani since the onslaught started on Tuesday, using heavy arms and thousands of fighters. It executed at least 11 civilians on Saturday, including at least two boys, the Observatory said.
The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a rebel group which has spent three decades fighting for autonomy for Turkey's Kurds, renewed a call for the youth of Turkey's mostly Kurdish southeast to rise up and rush to save Kobani.
Hundreds of security forces cleared the border area south of Suruc of a couple of thousand people who had gathered in solidarity with Kobani for a third day on the Turkish side of the barbed wire fence, where many of the refugees have crossed.