IS attack on Kobani stalls amid US air assault
A bid by Islamic State fighters to seize the flashpoint Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani has stalled, American officials said, with the help of air strikes reported to have killed over 500 jihadists.

U.S. and allied aircraft have flown nearly 6,600 sorties in the air war against the Islamic State (IS) group and dropped more than 1,700 bombs, the American military said Oct. 23.

The latest tally was released one month since the U.S.-led coalition extended its air campaign from Iraq into Syria in a bid to counter the advance of the jihadists.

The effect of the open-ended air campaign remains the subject of debate, with the White House saying the militants have been damaged by the strikes but critics pointing to the group's battlefield successes despite the raids.       

In Washington, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel acknowledged "mixed" results in the war effort but said: "We believe that our strategy is working."       

The Kurds in Kobani, which has become a crucial battlefield for both the IS jihadists and their opponents, have been holding out for more than a month, buoyed by a promise of Iraqi Kurd reinforcements and by U.S. air drops of weapons.

"I think the Kurdish defenders... are going to be able to hold," a defense official at U.S. Central Command said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kurds say their fighters are exhausted and anxious for promised reinforcements from Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

Lawmakers there agreed Wednesday to send their Peshmerga fighters after Turkey said it would allow 200 of them to travel through its territory to Kobani, where IS has an estimated 1,000 militants.

On the ground, the jihadists made fresh advances in and around Kobani, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The ISgroup had also taken control of a string of villages west of Kobani, after days of trading territory with the Kurds.

U.S. military officials delivered sobering news from Iraq, saying the Iraqi army is still months away from staging a major offensive to retake ground lost to the IS jihadists and is regrouping after suffering battlefield defeats this year.

The month-old U.S.-led aerial campaign on Syria has killed 553 people, all but 32 of them jihadists mostly drawn from overseas, the Observatory said.

The jihadist toll included 464 IS militants and 57 fighters from the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front, said the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a wide network of sources inside Syria.

News Code: 8686  |  Date: 2014/10/25  |  Time: 9 : 7

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