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Now we need troops on the ground to fight Isil - Turkey

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Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani after a war plane carried out an air strike, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province. Reuters

Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani after a war plane carried out an air strike, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province. Reuters

Protesters run away from tear gas during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in solidarity with people of Kobani, near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, in the Turkish town of Suruc in southeastern Sanliurfa province. Reuters

Protesters run away from tear gas during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in solidarity with people of Kobani, near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, in the Turkish town of Suruc in southeastern Sanliurfa province. Reuters

In this image shot with an extreme telephoto lens and through haze from the outskirts of Suruc at the Turkey-Syria border, militants with the Islamic State group are seen after placing their group's flag on a hilltop at the eastern side of the town of Kobani, Syria, where fighting had been intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group. AP Photo

In this image shot with an extreme telephoto lens and through haze from the outskirts of Suruc at the Turkey-Syria border, militants with the Islamic State group are seen after placing their group's flag on a hilltop at the eastern side of the town of Kobani, Syria, where fighting had been intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group. AP Photo

Smoke rises after an airstrike in Kobani, Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar in the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border.  AP Photo

Smoke rises after an airstrike in Kobani, Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar in the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border. AP Photo

A protester throws stones at an armoured army vehicle during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in solidarity with people of Kobani, near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, in the Turkish town of Suruc in southeastern Sanliurfa province. Reuters

A protester throws stones at an armoured army vehicle during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in solidarity with people of Kobani, near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, in the Turkish town of Suruc in southeastern Sanliurfa province. Reuters

Protesters run away as an armoured army vehicle sprays water to disperse them during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in solidarity with people of Kobani, near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, in the Turkish town of Suruc in southeastern Sanliurfa province. Reuters

Protesters run away as an armoured army vehicle sprays water to disperse them during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in solidarity with people of Kobani, near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, in the Turkish town of Suruc in southeastern Sanliurfa province. Reuters

A Kurdish party flag is seen on a pole on a hilltop on the western side of Kobani, Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar in the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border.  AP Photo

A Kurdish party flag is seen on a pole on a hilltop on the western side of Kobani, Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar in the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border. AP Photo

Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province. Reuters

Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province. Reuters

An Islamic State fighter walks near a black flag belonging to the Islamic State as a Turkish army vehicle takes position near the Syrian town of Kobani, as pictured from the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province. Reuters

An Islamic State fighter walks near a black flag belonging to the Islamic State as a Turkish army vehicle takes position near the Syrian town of Kobani, as pictured from the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province. Reuters

Riot police take up positions as they clash with protesters in Istanbul, during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in solidarity with the people of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. Reuters

Riot police take up positions as they clash with protesters in Istanbul, during a pro-Kurdish demonstration in solidarity with the people of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. Reuters

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Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani after a war plane carried out an air strike, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province. Reuters

The president of Turkey has urged for ground troops to be deployed in Kobane as the key Syrian border town teeters on the verge of falling under the control of the Islamic State and of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

The town has been under assault by Isil jihadists for more than three weeks and has become a focal point for the West's air strikes against the terrorist organisation.

The fall of Kobane to Isil would mark a major victory for the jihadists, who are fighting for a long stretch of the border with Turkey for their self-proclaimed "Islamic caliphate".

At least 412 people, more than half of them jihadists, have been killed in and around Kobane since mid-September, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inset, has warned that a ground operation is needed to defeat the militants, fuelling concerns that US-led air strikes are doing little to halt Isil's advances.

"The terror will not be over . . . unless we co-operate for a ground operation," Mr Erdogan said in a speech in the eastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, adding that air strikes were not enough on their own.

"Months have passed but no results have been achieved. Kobane is about to fall."

His comments came as Dutch F-16s joined the fight in northern Iraq, possibly killing Isil militants with their first aerial strikes, the country's defence ministry said.

"Two Dutch F-16s used weapons for the first time in Iraq against the terror group. They dropped three bombs on armed Isil vehicles that were shooting at (Kurdish) Peshmerga fighters in the north of the country," a statement said.

"Vehicles were destroyed in the attack and Isil fighters possibly killed."

Despite an initial slowing in the jihadist's advance on Kobane last week, the renewed offensive had by late yesterday seen Isil penetrate the town for the first time.

Local residents reported seeing Isil flags on top of buildings at the eastern entrance to the town. The battle moved from one of shellfire to urban guerilla warfare: "We can hear the sound of clashes in the street," said Parwer Ali Mohamed, a translator for the Kurdish Democratic Union Party.

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Gunfire rang out loudly as soldiers from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fought hard to defend the city centre.

The battle sent more than 2,000 Syrian Kurds, including women and children, fleeing from the border town into Turkey. Turkish border guards had last week tried to stop the mass exodus of panicked locals from crossing the border by firing teargas into the crowds.

The battle for Kobane is an example of the complexity of foreign intervention in the Syrian war: while the US and allies have sought to stop Isil by bombing it from the air, they have been reluctant to arm their YPG allies on the ground.

Turkey, a NATO member, has sought to block the supply of arms to the YPG for fear they will bolster their sister group, the Kurdistan Workers Party - an organisation proscribed as terrorists - which is fighting for autonomy in Turkey's south-east.

In a sign of mounting desperation among the Kurds defending Kobane, a Kurdish female fighter blew herself up at an Isil position east of Kobane on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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