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Intense fighting reported from Kobane

BY: Aljazeera.com

Heavy fighting reported between Kurdish militias and ISIL advancing on the northern Syrian town of Kobane.

Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are closing in on a key Kurdish town in Syria, as neighbouring Turkey vowed to do its utmost to stop the strategic prize falling to the armed group.

Heavy fighting between ISIL and Kurdish militias was reported througout Kobane on Friday with artillery shells landing on eastern and western neighbourhoods of the besieged town.

Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from Suruc in Southern Turkey, said intense fighting including shelling, gunfire and explosions could be heard from across the border.

Sources from the town told Al Jazeera that ISIL had seized control of hills around Kobane, and backed by military vehicles and tanks, launched an attack on a south-eastern suburb early in the morning.

At least 25 mortar rounds rained down on Kobane in the morning as Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the Peoples Protection Units (YPG), battled ISIL on its outskirts, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The YPG reportedly destroyed two ISIL armoured vehicles southeast of the town, and killed seven ISIL fighters, the Britain-based watchdog added.

Turkish pledge

Intensified shelling in and around Kobane has angered Kurds on the Turkish side of the border, who have blamed Ankara for not doing enough to stop the assault.

On Thursday, Turkey's prime minister said he would do whatever he could to prevent the fall of Kobane.

"We will do whatever we can so that Kobane does not fall," Ahmet Davutoglu said.

"We opened our arms to our brothers from Kobane," he added, recalling that his country had already given refuge to 160,000 civilians fleeing the area.

Our correspondent said there was no indication Turkey was planning to send troops to the area so soon after parliament authorised troop deployment across the border.

On Friday, Syria's foreign minister, Faisal Maqdad, said any Turkish military intervention on its soil would be considered an act of aggression.

The United States has been working to build a broad international alliance against ISIL who have declared an Islamic "caliphate" straddling swathes of Iraq and Syria where they have committed widespread atrocities.

The US-led air campaign against the group's positions in neighbouring Iraq received a boost on Friday with a decision by Australia to join combat sorties in support of Kurdish forces and the beleaguered Iraqi army.

Source: Aljazeera.com