UN warns of massacre if Kobane falls
UN warns of massacre if Kobane falls –
Kurdish fighters in Kobane
ABC News – Thousands of people “will most likely be massacred” if Kobane falls to Islamic State (IS) fighters, a United Nations envoy said as militants reportedly overran the headquarters of Kurdish forces in Kobane and now control 40 per cent of the battleground Syrian border town.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said Kobane could suffer the same fate as the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, where 8,000 Muslims were killed by Serbs in 1995, Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II.
“If this falls, the 700, plus perhaps the 12,000 people, apart from the fighters, will be most likely massacred,” Mr de Mistura said, referring to UN estimates.
The UN figures account for the number of Kurdish fighters defending the town and the total number of people believed trapped inside it.
“Do you remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot and probably we never forgave ourselves,” he said.
“When there is an imminent threat to civilians, we cannot, we should not, be silent.”
International attention has focused on Turkey, a NATO member with the biggest army in the region, however Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan has so far refused to join the military coalition against Islamic State or use force to protect Kobane.
Turkey has absorbed 1.2 million Syrian refugees, including 200,000 from Kobane in the past few weeks.
The plight of mainly Kurdish Kobane has unleashed the worst street violence in years in Turkey, which has 15 million Kurds of its own.
Turkish Kurds have risen up since Tuesday against Mr Erdogan’s government, which they accuse of allowing their kin to be slaughtered.
At least 31 people have been killed in three days of riots and street violence across the mainly Kurdish southeast, including two police officers shot dead in an apparent attempt to assassinate a police chief. The police chief was wounded.
Fears Kobane will fall as fierce clashes continue
Intense fighting between IS fighters and outgunned Kurdish forces in the streets of Kobane could be heard from across the border on Friday.
Warplanes roared overhead and the western edge of town was hit by an air strike, apparently by US-led coalition jets which have intensified a campaign against IS targets around Kobane in recent days.
But even as it has increased its bombing of the area, Washington has acknowledged its air support is unlikely to be enough to save the town from falling.
There are also conflicting reports of how much of Kobane the militants control.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the violence, said IS fighters had advanced into Kobane and now controlled at least 40 per cent of it, including its central administrative area, known as the “security quarter”.
The group that supports opposition forces fighting troops loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said IS militants had overrun the headquarters of Kurdish forces defending Kobane.
“They have taken at least 40 per cent [of the town],” Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory, said by telephone.
Ocalan Iso, deputy head of the Kurdish forces defending the town, told Reuters IS fighters were still shelling the centre, which proved it had not yet fallen.
“There are fierce clashes and they are bombing the centre of Kobane from afar,” he said, estimating the militants controlled 20 per cent of the town. He called for more US-led air strikes.