Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters made new gains on Friday in the Syrian town of Kobane, taking control now of about 40 percent of it, a monitoring group said.
“They have taken at least 40 percent (of the town),” Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said by telephone.
ISIS fighters were now in almost complete control of the “security quarter,” which is home to the administrative buildings used by the local government, he said.
Deputy U.S. National Security Adviser Tony Blinken, meanwhile, said: “I don't know what's going to happen because again in the absence of any ground force there, it is going to be difficult just through air power to prevent ISIL (IS) from potentially taking over the town.”
He said there would be other similar situations to Kobane where U.S. actions may or may not be effective.
“There are other Kobanes in Iraq, there are other Kobanes in Syria on a daily basis,” he said.
U.N. 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 Two, while U.N. peacekeepers failed to protect them.
“If this falls, the 700, plus perhaps the 12,000 people, apart from the fighters, will be most likely massacred,” de Mistura said. The United Nations believes 700 mainly elderly civilians are trapped in the town itself and 12,000 have left the center but not made it across the border into Turkey.
“Do you remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot and probably we never forgave ourselves,” said de Mistura, the U.N. peace envoy for Syria. “When there is an imminent threat to civilians, we cannot, we should not, be silent.”
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 President Tayyip 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 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.