Middle East

Islamic State: Kurds 'seize key Kobane district'

Ruined street in Kobane. 19 Nov 2014
Image caption Much of Kobane lies in ruins after months of fighting

Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State (IS) in Kobane, northern Syria, have seized a key district and now control 80% of the town, activists say.

Syrian Kurds backed by Iraqi Peshmerga forces captured the security district including the police HQ, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

IS advanced on the town in September and quickly overran much of it.

Since then, however, Kurdish fighters helped by US-led air strikes have steadily pushed them back.

The Observatory, based in the UK, said Kurdish fighters known as the People's Protection Units (YPG) had seized the security area after fierce clashes that started on Sunday night.

Kobane official Idriss Nassan confirmed the report and said IS fighters still controlled the eastern districts of Maqtala and Kani Kordan.

"Hopefully within days the (YPG) units will be in control of the whole city," he said.

"The advance has become faster and the air strikes are more intense."

US Central Command said eight air strikes had destroyed 13 IS fighting positions and a building in Kobane since Monday, and damaged a second building. They followed eight air strikes on Sunday that destroyed 11 IS fighting positions, CentCom said.

The IS advance into Kobane has sent thousands of refugees fleeing across the nearby Turkish border.

Hundreds of people are believed to have been killed in the battle for the town.

IS controls large swathes of both Syria and neighbouring Iraq.