SURUC, Turkey — Kurdish militiamen are putting up a fierce fight to defend a Syrian town near the border with Turkey but are struggling to repel advances by the Islamic State group, which is pushing in from two sides, Syrian activists and Kurdish officials said Saturday.
The battle for Kobani is still raging despite more than two weeks of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition targeting the militants in and around the town. The strikes, which are aimed at rolling back gains by the group, appear to have done little to blunt the onslaught by the extremists on Kobani that began in mid-September.
On Friday, the militants seized the so-called Kurdish security quarter — an area in the town's east where Kurdish militiamen maintain security buildings and where the police station, municipality and other local government offices are located.
A senior Kurdish official, Ismet Sheikh Hasan, said clashes were focused in the southern and eastern parts of the town. He said the situation was dire and appealed for international help.
"We are defending (the town) but ... we have only simple weapons and they (militants) have heavy weapons," he said in a call with The Associated Press Friday evening. "They are not besieged and can move easily," he said.
Hasan said the U.S.-led airstrikes were not effective, and urged the international community and the United Nations to intervene, predicting a massacre if the militants seize control of Kobani. He also appealed to Turkey to open a corridor that would allow remaining civilians to leave Kobani and arms supplies to enter the town.
Since the Islamic State group's offensive on Kobani started, at least 500 people have been killed and more than 200,000 have been forced to flee across the border into Turkey.
Hasan said the Turks were now allowing only wounded civilians to cross into Turkey.
The director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdurrahman, said the town's Kurdish fighters "are putting up a fierce fight" but are outgunned by the militants.
Associated Press writers Mucahit Ceylan and Burak Sayin contributed to this report from Mursitpinar, Turkey.