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Islamic State Poised To Capture Syrian Border Town, Turkey Warns

Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province on Tuesday.
Image credit: Umit Bektas

Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is warning that the Syrian border town of Kobani is on the verge of being captured by the self-declared Islamic State.

“Kobani is about to fall,” he told Syrian refugees in the Turkish town of Gaziantep, near the border.

Islamic State fighters using tanks and heavy weapons captured from Iraqi and Syrian forces have pounded the city for days. Meanwhile, Turkish tanks have deployed near the border close to the fighting but have not intervened.

According to Reuters, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Tuesday that it was vital to act in order to stop the extremist group from capturing the town.

“A lot is at stake in Kobani and everything must be done so that the Daesh terrorists are stopped and pushed back,” Fabius told the French Parliament, according to Reuters. “A tragedy is unfolding, and we must all react.”

The warnings from Turkey and France come as U.S.-led airstrikes pound ISIS positions in and around the town.

On Monday, Islamic State militants reportedly captured a part of eastern Kobani, where they raised the group’s black flag.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says airstrikes have pushed the fighters out of the area Tuesday.

The militants have been trying for weeks to capture Kobani, which has been fiercely defended by Kurdish forces.

The Washington Post says:

“Capturing [Kobani] would give the Islamic State control over a longer stretch of the Turkish-Syrian border and open potential new smuggling lines for fighters and supplies.

“NATO member Turkey has authorized its military to cross the border to confront the militant group, but Turkish commanders have held back their tanks and troops from aiding Syrian Kurdish forces trying to hold [Kobani].”

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports that Kurdish activists “have forced their way into the European Parliament and clashed with police in Turkey. The protests are part of Europe-wide demonstrations against the Islamic State group’s advance. Turkish police used water cannons and tear gas today against the demonstrators.”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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