Kurdish forces battled overnight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), trying to seize a hill overlooking a Syrian border town with Turkey as U.S.-led coalition warplanes carried out raids against ISIL, a Kurdish official and a monitoring group said on Sunday.
A translator with the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) inside Kobani said ISIL forces were hitting it with tank and mortar fire as they tried to seize Mistanour hill, a landmark whose capture would give them easy access to the town.
Kurdish forces had managed to stop the armed group capturing the hill, Parwer Mohammed Ali told Reuters.
"Overnight there were new airstrikes. They struck three or four times in the vicinity Mistanour hill," he added.
ISIL, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, launched a new offensive to capture Kobani, a Kurdish town, two weeks ago as they try consolidate their hold on a stretch of territory across northern Syria and Iraq.
U.S-led air raids on ISIL in Syria have done little to blunt its advance on Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, and the violence has driven about some 180,000 Kurds into Turkey.
Turkey has shown no sign it will intervene to directly confront ISIL on its borders. It sees the Kurdish armed groups defending Kobani as foes.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the three-year-old Syrian war, said ISIL has managed to capture the southern side of Mistanour hill, the furthest away from the town.
At least 11 Kurdish fighters and 16 ISIL members were killed in the overnight clashes, it said.
Ocalan Iso, deputy commander of the Kurdish forces defending Kobani, said the clashes had focused on the hill, which lies to the south east. ISIL forces are now within a kilometer of Kobani, he said by telephone.
Further west in Syria, government warplanes bombed towns in the countryside north of Aleppo, which the Syrian military is seeking to recapture from a mix of insurgent groups.
Last week the Syrian army made a new advance on Aleppo, seizing three villages north of the city and threatening rebel supply lines in a potentially major reversal.
President Bashar al-Assad's army has intensified an offensive in the heavily populated western areas of Syria as U.S.-led warplanes concentrate on areas in the north and east — ISIL-controlled areas which Damascus sees as less important.
Clashes took place between the Syrian army and ISIL fighters around Kowaires military airbase in Aleppo, the Observatory said. Syrian warplanes on Saturday carried out raids around the airport.
In the industrial city of Sheikh Najjar, northeast of Aleppo, armed groups including Nusra Front also fought with government forces backed by pro-government militias and fighters from Shiite Lebanese group Hezbollah, the Observatory said.