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Key city of Kobani is about to fall to ISIS, Turkish president warns

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Posted at 10:01 AM, Oct 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-07 14:11:07-04

(CNN) — Airstrikes targeting ISIS struck near the crucial Syrian city of Kobani overnight.

Five airstrikes near that city targeted groups of ISIS fighters, U.S. Central Command said. There were another four strikes elsewhere in Syria and four in Iraq.

“Finally, they are hitting the right places,” one local fighter against ISIS said after the airstrikes near Kobani, which is close to the Turkish border and key to ISIS’ effort to extend its terrain.

Were Kobani to fall, ISIS would control a complete swath of land between its self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, and Turkey — a stretch of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).

Outnumbered and outgunned by ISIS, local fighters trying to defend the Kurdish-dominated city have tried to flee into Turkey.

Airstrikes against the radical Islamist group in Kobani can be challenging because many targets there are too close to the Turkish border or Kurdish forces to strike, a senior U.S. military official said.

Kobani is about to fall, Turkish pres. says

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country has agreed to help fight ISIS, warned Tuesday that Kobani is about to fall into ISIS’ hands.

Destroying the group will require ground operations, he said, according to the semi-official Anadolu news agency.

Speaking to Syrian refugees, he said there has been “no achievement yet,” despite months of efforts against ISIS.

Erdogan called for a no-fly zone, and for the arming of opposition groups in Iraq and Syria.

Violent protests in Turkey

People upset over what they consider Turkey’s failure to respond adequately to the ISIS threat launched protests in Turkey, some of which turned violent.

There were clashes overnight in Istanbul, and a group of about 50 to 60 protesters blocked a road, CNN affiliate CNN Turk reported.

Some demonstrators set fire to a bus and garbage truck and smashed windows and cars.

A 23-year-old man was killed in the midst of a protest, according to Sabite Ekinci, mayor of the town of Varto. The man was shot, Ekinci said.

Two other people were injured, she said.

In Belgium, meanwhile, Kurdish protesters stormed the European Parliament building. CNN affiliate RTL Belgium said about 50 protesters stormed into the building. Police then cordoned it off.

Some European nations have joined the fight against ISIS, but the Kurdish protesters want tougher action.

Belgium participated in overnight airstrikes in Iraq, U.S. Central Command said.

Dutch join in

Dutch forces participated for the first time in airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq as well, dropping three bombs on ISIS vehicles that were shooting at Kurdish Peshmerga forces, the Dutch Defense Ministry said in a statement. The vehicles were destroyed, and ISIS fighters may have been killed, the ministry said.

In Syria, according to U.S. Central Command, the airstrikes against ISIS included:

1 south of Kobani destroyed three ISIS armed vehicles and damaged another

1 southeast of Kobani destroyed an ISIS armed vehicle carrying anti-aircraft artillery

2 southwest of Kobani damaged an ISIS tank

1 south of Kobani destroyed an ISIS unit

Elsewhere in Syria, two strikes west of al-Hasakah hit multiple ISIS buildings, one near Deir Ezzor struck an ISIS staging area and IED production facility, and one southwest of Rabiyah struck a small group of ISIS fighters.

The United States, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE all participated in the strikes, Central Command said.

Death toll in fight for Kobani

More than 400 people have been killed in the fight for Kobani since mid-September, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday.

The group said it has documented the deaths of 219 ISIS jihadists, 163 members of the Kurdish militia, and 20 civilians.

A northern Iraqi hospital has received the bodies of at least 29 suspected ISIS militants, the head of the Tal Afar hospital said Tuesday.

Danial Qassim said most were killed in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes overnight.

Tal Afar is about 70 kilometers (43 miles) west of Mosul — Iraq’s second-largest city. Mosul has also been overtaken by ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.

U.S. military airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria have cost more than $62 million so far, according to data provided by the U.S. Defense Department.

The data, apparently sent out inadvertently to the Pentagon’s press contacts on Monday, listed the total number of airstrikes by U.S. Central Command in Iraq and Syria. It also detailed locations of targets and specified the costs of munitions used.