Kurdish militiamen fight street battles with IS in border town

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Kurdish militiamen have fought street battles with Islamic State (IS) extremists in a Syrian border town near Turkey, 
following intensified US-led coalition air strikes targeting the militants.

In Kobani, members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, advanced hours after the bombardment against IS was stepped up in and around the town, according to Asya Abdullah, a Syrian Kurdish leader.

The Pentagon said 21 air strikes against Islamic State targets near Kobani on Monday night had marked the largest number there in a 24-hour period since the air campaign in Syria began last month.

Mr Abdullah, the co-president of Syria’s powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, said Kurdish fighters have advanced near the hill of Tel Shair that overlooks part of the town, taking advantage of the air raids that slowed the push by the militants.

Elsewhere in Syria, in a stark reminder of the country’s wider civil war, a Syrian politician was gunned down in the restive central province of Hama – the latest assassination to target a figure linked to president Bashar Assad’s government.

Gunmen opened fire at Waris al-Younes’ car as he was travelling on a road linking the city of Hama with the town of Salamiyeh. No-one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Several Syrian officials have been assassinated since Syria’s crisis began in March 2011. The uprising, which later turned into a civil war, has killed more than 190,000 people.

In mid-September, IS launched its offensive on Kobani and captured dozens of nearby Kurdish villages, as well as about a third of the town.

More than 500 people have died and 200,000 have fled across the border into Turkey.

Turkey has said it will not join the fight against the Islamic State extremists in Syria unless the US-led coalition also goes after Mr Assad’s government, including a no-fly zone and a buffer zone along the Turkish border.