Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani, as seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border October 10, 2014. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BEIRUT - Islamic State fighters advanced deeper into the Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border on Friday, taking almost complete control of an area where the local Kurdish administration is based, a group monitoring the violence reported.
"They have taken at least 40 percent (of the town)," Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said by telephone.
Islamic State fighters were now in almost complete control of the "security quarter," which is home to the administrative buildings used by the local government, he said.
A Kurdish military official speaking from Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, said there was fighting between Islamic State and Kurdish fighters next to a building used by Kurdish internal security forces, but denied any major advance by the group.
Ocalan Iso, deputy head of the Kurdish forces, said Islamic State was still bombarding the town center with mortars, showing that its fighters had not extended their control over more than 20 percent of the town. "There are fierce clashes and they are bombing the center of Kobani from afar," he said by telephone.
Meanwhile, a UN envoy called on Turkey on Friday to help prevent a slaughter in Kobani at the hands of Islamic State fighters, saying he feared a repeat of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre when thousands died.
Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations' envoy to Syria, appealed to Ankara to let "volunteers" cross the frontier so that they can reinforce Kurdish militias defending the town that lies within sight of Turkish territory.
He revived memories of the breakup of Yugoslavia when Bosnian Serb forces marched into the town of Srebrenica, which was supposed to be under UN protection, and gunned down more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys at execution sites.
"Do you remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot and probably we never forgave ourselves," de Mistura told a news conference.
Turkey has stationed tanks on hills overlooking Kobani but so far refused to intervene without a comprehensive deal with the United States and other allies on the Syrian civil war. It has also prevented Turkish Kurds from crossing the frontier to reinforce their fellow Kurds defending the town.
If the city fell, 400 km of the 900 km-long Syrian-Turkish border would be in Islamic State hands.