MURSITPINAR, Turkey – Kurds battling jihadists for the Syrian border town of Kobane welcomed a first US airdrop of weapons on Monday as neighbouring Turkey said it will help Iraqi Kurds to support the fight.
In an apparent bid to cut Kobane off from Turkey, two suicide car bombings struck the north of the town facing the border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving an immediate casualty toll.
And the jihadists of the Islamic Jihad (IS) group sent in reinforcements from Jarablous to the west of Kobane, as shelling of the centre of town resumed towards the end of a relatively calm day.
Ankara has refused land deliveries of arms to the Syrian Kurds, who are linked with Turkey's outlawed rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), but said it was helping Iraqi Kurds to reinforce the strategic town.
The Syrian Kurdish forces in Kobane hailed the airdrop, saying it would "help greatly" in the town's defence against a nearly five-week offensive by the IS.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said it would have been "morally very difficult to turn your back on a community fighting ISIL," using another acronym for IS.
And a senior administration official said the airdrop was in recognition of the "impressive" resistance put up by the Kurds and the losses they were inflicting on IS.
Three C-130 cargo aircraft carried out what the US military called "multiple" successful drops of supplies, including small arms, provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq.
The supplies were "intended to enable continued resistance against ISIL's attempts to overtake Kobane," said US Central Command.
The US-led coalition has carried out more than 135 air strikes against IS targets around Kobane, and an AFP correspondent just across the border in Turkey reported a fresh raid on Monday afternoon.
The main Syrian Kurdish fighting force in Kobane, the People's Protection Units (YPG), swiftly welcomed the airdrop.
"The military assistance dropped by American planes at dawn on Kobane was good and we thank America for this support," said spokesman Redur Xelil.
"It will have a positive impact on military operations against Daesh and we hope for more," he added, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
Xelil declined to detail the weapons delivered but said there was "coordination" over the drop.
"Weapons have been sent according to their needs, and this is the first batch, and included heavy weapons," said Halgord Hekmat, spokesman for Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces, without providing further details.
IS launched its Kobane offensive on September 16, swiftly pushing Kurds back to the town itself and sparking an exodus of 200,000 refugees into Turkey.
But the Kurds have kept up a dogged resistance on the streets of the town, of which they control around half.
Iraq Ashura bombing fears
Despite carrying out its first airdrops in Kobane, the US military says its top priority remains Iraq, where IS swept through much of the Sunni Arab heartland north and west of Baghdad in June.
Since last week, the Iraqi capital has seen a rise in the number of bomb attacks, several of which have been claimed by the Sunni extremist IS.
And on Monday a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a Shiite mosque in the central Baghdad neighbourhood of Sinak, killing at least 11 people and wounding 26, officials said.
The violence has raised fears that IS will attack large gatherings of Shiite worshippers during the upcoming Ashura commemorations, the target of devastating bombings in past years.AFP