Intensified U.S. airstrikes have pounded ISIL positions in and around the besieged Syrian border town of Kobane for a third day, with 14 raids reported in the last 24 hours alone.
The attacks on Wednesday and Thursday appear to have slowed the advance of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters, but "the security situation on the ground in Kobane remains tenuous," the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement on Thursday.
Underscoring the fragile nature of Kobane’s defense, Kurdish forces called Thursday for the supply of more weapons in order to push extremists back from the vulnerable town.
The Pentagon said on Wednesday that air strikes had killed several hundred ISIL fighters so far, though it cautioned that the town could still fall to the group, which has held onto a vast territory stretching across Iraq and Syria despite the efforts of the U.S.-led coalition.
"The more they want it, the more resources they apply to it, the more targets we have to hit," Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary said.
However, an unnamed Syrian Kurdish official told the Associated Press that his fighters needed weapons to beat ISIL on the ground, and that air strikes were not enough – something the U.S.-led coalition has always acknowledged.
On Thursday, the U.S. Central Command, which commands U.S. forces in the Middle East, said the latest attacks were designed to disrupt ISIL's reinforcement and resupply efforts and to prevent it from "massing combat power on the Kurdish-held portions of Kobane.”
Also on Thursday, the Pentagon said talks between the U.S. and Turkey on a possible Turkish role in combating ISIL went "very, very well."
Turkey, a NATO ally, has rebuffed American requests to take a more active role in the anti-ISIL coalition and relief mission in Kobane – which lies just across the Turkish border with Syria – or to allow arms to flow to the Kurdish armed group PYD.
Turkish calculations for Syria are complex, given that Ankara has long tolerated ISIL because it effectively countered Turkey’s main enemies in Syria — the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the country’s Kurds, who are allied with Turkey’s own Kurdish PKK insurgency. It also fears opening up its vast border with Syria and Iraq as the frontlines against ISIL, which has a presence in Turkish cities but has mostly left the country alone.
Over one million people have fled Kobane for Turkey, including many who were refugees themselves in the Kurdish enclave.
Meanwhile on Thursday, at least 47 people were killed and more than 120 wounded in bombings and mortar strikes across Iraq that were blamed on ISIL.
Al Jazeera and wire services