ISIS militants patrol in Fallujah, June 21, 2014
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has reinforced fighters who are battling Kurdish forces for control of a Syrian town at the border with Turkey, a redeployment triggered by US-led airstrikes on the group elsewhere
, a Kurdish military official said.
Ocalan Iso, deputy leader of the Kurdish forces defending the town of Kobani at the Turkish border, said more ISIS fighters and tanks had arrived since the US-led coalition began air strikes on the group on Tuesday.
"The number of their fighters has increased, the number of their tanks has increased since the bombardment of Raqqa
," Iso told Reuters by telephone. He repeated calls for the US-led coalition to expand its airstrikes to ISIS positions near Kobani, which is also known as Ayn al-Arab.
"Kobani is in danger," he said.
The US-led airstrikes on ISIS in Syria, without the consent of Damascus, have so far targeted the provinces of Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Hasakah.
ISIS launched a major offensive against Kobani last week, forcing nearly 140,000 Syrian Kurds to flee across the border into Turkey within days - the largest and fastest exodus of civilians since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.
Iso said ISIS fighters had advanced to within 8 km (5 miles) from the southern periphery of Kobani - closer than they have been at any stage in the latest offensive.
"We call on American forces to hit their positions. They are 8 km from Kobani. They were 25 km away before," he said.
A group of several dozen Syrian Kurds who had fled the fighting watched from a hillside on the Turkish side of the border as Kurdish fighters battled ISIS militants in a cluster of villages called Siftek. The sound of sporadic artillery and gunfire echoed around the hills.