IS jihadists close in on Syria Kurdish town: Monitor

Islamic State jihadists were closing in on Syria`s third largest Kurdish town Sunday after their capture of surrounding villages sent tens of thousands of refugees streaming into Turkey, a monitoring group said.

AFP| Updated: Sep 21, 2014, 13:51 PM IST

Damascus: Islamic State jihadists were closing in on Syria`s third largest Kurdish town Sunday after their capture of surrounding villages sent tens of thousands of refugees streaming into Turkey, a monitoring group said.

IS fighters were within just 10 kilometres (six miles) of the strategic border town known as Ain al-Arab in Arabic and Kobane in Kurdish, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Kurdish militia who have been battling to defend the town have lost 27 fighters since the jihadists launched their offensive last Tuesday, the Observatory said.

IS has lost at least 37 of their fighters, said the Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on a network of doctors and activists for its reports.

"The great majority of those killed on the jihadist side have been foreigners, among them Chechens and Gulf Arabs," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Civilians continued to stream across the nearby border into Turkey on Sunday, the Observatory said.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Saturday that more than 60,000 Syrian Kurds had crossed since the border was opened the previous day.

The jihadists have captured more than 60 villages around Kobane over the past five days, triggering an exodus of terrified civilians.

Kurdish militia have put up a dogged fight for the enclave -- one of three mainly Kurdish areas of the north where Kurdish leaders had declared self-rule -- and there were fears of reprisals by IS.

Capture of the town would give the jihadists unbroken control of a big swathe of the border with Turkey.