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US warplanes bomb IS near Kobane to aid Kurds in Syria

WASHINGTON: US warplanes renewed air strikes against Islamic State jihadists near the Syrian town of Kobane, as Iraqi peshmerga soldiers prepared to reinforce their fellow Kurds in the border area, the US military said on Wednesday.

US fighter jets and bombers on Tuesday and Wednesday carried out eight air raids near Kobane, targeting six vehicles, a building and several IS fighting positions over the past 24 hours, said the military’s Central Command, which oversees the air war in Iraq and Syria.

In Iraq, American unmanned drones and fighter jets conducted six bombing raids, including three near Sinjar in the north and three around Fallujah, west of Baghdad, Central Command said in a statement.

The latest air strikes came as heavily armed peshmerga forces were poised to cross the Turkish border into Kobane to help the local Kurdish militia that has held out against a relentless assault by IS militants for weeks.

Free Syrian Army rebels crossed from Turkey to Kobane earlier on Wednesday.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington has seen the reports that FSA fighters were crossing the border.

“We welcome the support they would provide to Kobane’s defense,” Psaki told reporters, adding it would be up to officials on the ground to confirm when the process was completed.

Under heavy pressure from the United States, Turkey announced last week it would allow fighters from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish province to cross its territory to join the fight for Kobane.

Iraqi Kurdish officials said up to 200 fighters would be sent.

The town has become a crucial symbol in the battle against IS, an extremist Sunni Muslim group that has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq and declared an Islamic “caliphate.”

US forces have carried out dozens of strikes around Kobane over the past week in support of the Kurdish fighters, who hold most of the town. -AFP

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