ISIS, Kurdish forces battle near strategic town of Kobani on Syria-Turkey border
(CNN) — Fighting intensified Sunday as ISIS continued its siege of the strategic town of Kobani on the Syrian-Turkish border.
Some of the harshest fighting between ISIS and the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit, or YPG, took place on and around Meshta Nour, the hill overlooking Kobani, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Groups of mercenaries have intensified attacks on the hill Meshta Nour southeast of the city of Kobani for the last two days,” YPG said in a statement.
The YPG said 86 “terrorists” were killed during a 24-hour period and 17 YPG members died.
Smoke billowed over Kobani as ISIS sent bombs into the middle of town. On the eastern outskirts of the city, U.S. and allied air strikes targeted ISIS forces, a resident told CNN.
The battle over Kobani, an enclave for Kurds, is significant because ISIS is trying to claim a vast swath of land from its self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, on the Euphrates River to the Turkish border, more than 60 miles away.
Conflict occurred outside Kobani when Turkish security forces fired tear gas canisters at Kurds gathered near the border to watch the fighting from afar, CNN’s Phil Black reported.
Black said the security forces fired the tear gas when the crowds became restive or moved too close to the border. At least three canisters struck a CNN van, he said. Nobody was badly hurt and the crowds dispersed.
ISIS picked up support when Pakistani Taliban spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid issued a statement backing ISIS.
“The Muslims of the world look to you with great expectation and in this difficult time we your mujahidin brothers are with you and will provide you with fighters and help,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, U.S. and allied military forces conducted three airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and six airstrikes in Iraq on Saturday and Sunday, U.S. Central Command reported.
In Syria, one strike northwest of Al Mayadin destroyed an ISIS bulldozer, two tanks and another vehicle, the military said. Two strikes northwest of Ar Raqqah hit a large ISIS unit and destroyed six firing positions.
In Iraq, four strikes northeast of Fallujah struck two mortar teams, a large ISIS unit and two small ISIS units, the military said. Three ISIS Humvees were destroyed with strikes near Hit and Sinjar.
CNN’s Yousif Basil in Atlanta contributed to this report.
By Ralph Ellis