Jihadists pound key Syrian town after beheading Briton

Kurdish fighters supported by US led air strikes held back jihadists attacking a Syrian border town on Saturday, following an international outcry at the murder of a British hostage by the Islamic State group.

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 05, 2014, 00:28 AM IST

Mursitpinar: Kurdish fighters supported by US led air strikes held back jihadists attacking a Syrian border town on Saturday, following an international outcry at the murder of a British hostage by the Islamic State group.

Dozens of militants with the Islamic State (IS) organisation which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq were reported killed in the latest coalition air raids.

The dusty Syrian town of Kobane on the frontier with Turkey has become a key battleground between IS jihadists and their opponents, who include local Kurdish fighters as well as the United States and its allies.

The US military said four air strikes hit the Kobane area overnight.

Fighting raged Saturday as IS militants attempted to seize a strategic hilltop that would give them access to the town, activists said.

Mortar rounds pounded the town as smoke rose above it, according to an AFP team on the Turkish side of the border.

"The resistance is continuing. The danger has not yet been overcome," Sebahat Tuncel, a Kurdish member of Turkey's parliament, told reporters after visiting Kobane.

Five jihadists were killed in American air raids near the town, as well as 30 more around Shadadi in northeastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

IS militants fired at least 80 mortar rounds into Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on yesterday.

The fighting killed at least 10 Kurdish militia members, according to the Britain-based Observatory, which monitors the conflict.

But activist Mustafa Ebdi said Kurdish fighters had been buoyed by their success at holding off the assault so far, noting that the jihadists had hoped to capture the town by Saturday for the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival.

"So far they have failed to enter the town," Ebdi said.

IS began its advance towards Kobane on September 16, seeking to cement its grip over a long stretch of the border.

It has prompted a mass exodus of residents from the town and the surrounding countryside, with some 186,000 fleeing into Turkey.

Syrian state media also reported coalition strikes Saturday in Al-Quriyah in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, with a tank destroyed.

In neighbouring Iraq, unidentified gunmen killed 10 soldiers and Shiite allied militiamen in two separate attacks in Diyala province northeast of the capital Baghdad.

American bombers and fighter jets also carried out five air strikes against IS in Iraq, the US military said.