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US air strikes 'help Kurdish troops push back Isil'

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Syrian Kurdish refugee children from the Kobani area, hold hands at a camp in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Syrian Kurdish refugee children from the Kobani area, hold hands at a camp in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

AP

Kurdish refugee girls from the Syrian town of Kobani play in a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province

Kurdish refugee girls from the Syrian town of Kobani play in a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province

REUTERS

Kurdish women mourn next to grave markers during a funeral for Kurdish fighters, in a cemetery in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province. The fighters were killed during clashes against Islamic State militants in the Syrian town of Kobani

Kurdish women mourn next to grave markers during a funeral for Kurdish fighters, in a cemetery in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province. The fighters were killed during clashes against Islamic State militants in the Syrian town of Kobani

REUTERS

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Syrian Kurdish refugee children from the Kobani area, hold hands at a camp in Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

THE Kurdish defenders of the besieged town of Kobane claim to be pushing back their Isil jihadi attackers with the help of US air strikes and aid drops.

The militia leading the fight against Isil, the YPG, took a key supply road, according to a co-leader of the YPG's political arm, the PYD.

"A group of the YPG is now controlling the road linking the town and Halanja in southern Kobane, which was previously under the control of Isil," the leader, Asia Abdullah, said.

"There is some advance inside the town, especially the eastern zone."

A combination of air strikes, an arms drop to the YPG, and the arrival of reinforcements from the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga and some Free Syrian Army rebels, has managed to hold the rapid Isil advance.

Figures released yesterday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said that US strikes had killed around 750 Isil fighters in the country, of which hundreds are known to have been involved in the fighting around Kobane.

In addition, the strikes killed 68 members of the other leading jihadi group in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, which is loyal to al-Qa'ida, as well as 50 civilians, the Observatory said. Isil still controls half of Kobane, however.

Ms Abdullah said Isil was re-mobilising on the outskirts of town, and near Jarablus, the Syrian Arab town also on the Turkish border to the west. Meanwhile, allied air strikes, including by an RAF drone, may also have helped the government in neighbouring Iraq halt and perhaps reverse Isil gains there.

Baghdad claimed to have retaken most of the key town of Baiji, north of Baghdad, where the first British drone strikes hit earlier this week. It is home to the country's largest oil refinery, which has been besieged by Isil for months but whose defenders are now hopeful of relief.

Coalition strikes on Iraq have been sporadic compared to recent US-led campaigns. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent