BEIRUT — Supplies of medicine and other goods are drying up in Kobane, a Syrian border city under siege by militants from the Islamic State.
The city has been under attack since Sept. 15, and 80 percent of its residents have fled to the Turkish border as fighters remain behind trying to defend it.
“There is no water or electricity,” said Hiba Baron Sherif, a lawyer who left Kobane on Monday morning. She spoke from a crackling Turkish telephone number because the phone lines have been cut in her part of Syria. “The worst part is the water is running out and people are digging wells and using generators to get water. Due to the situation, the drinking water mixed with wastewater, and many people got sick.”
Kobane is the third-largest Kurdish city in Syria. Residents have abandoned their homes there under the assault by Islamic State militants.
“Until recently, I would see some shops open, lights in some houses and some people still there,” said Mustafa, an activist who gave only his first name. “Today the city is dead. Around 1,000 more left to the borders. My family left today with others, and [the Turks] closed the border.”
Iraqi Kurdish authorities have sent a dozen trucks filled with food into Kobane, Sherif said, adding that store owners who left the city gave permission for those still in Kobane to open their businesses and take food. But residents say it’s not food they need but medicine and weapons.
“There are only [a] few doctors left inside the city, and there is a shortage of medicine and drugs,” Sherif said. “The wounded are transferred to Turkey, but it’s very difficult.”
Shells continued to fall on Kobane on Monday afternoon as the Islamic State sustained its attack, two days after the U.S-led coalition struck militant positions near the city in an attempt to weaken their offensive. Some of those shells fell in Turkish territory Monday, drawing attention to Turkey’s hands-off approach to the militants’ advance. Turkish authorities have prevented Turkish Kurds from entering Syria to fight alongside their brethren.
“But in fact, we do not need fighters. We have enough,” Mustafa said. “We do not even need airstrikes. We urgently need weapons. We need antitank rockets and other heavy weapons to face the tanks, mortars and artillery.” The Islamic State militants “have everything, and that makes them superior to us militarily,” he added.
It has been a week since the United States and allied Arab states first hit Syria in a campaign to destroy the group that controls swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory.
In the latest strikes, the U.S-led coalition hit eight targets in Syria on Sunday and Monday, including a military compound, a training base and vehicles next to a grain silo, according to a statement by the U.S. Central Command.
The coalition also hit three targets in Iraq, where the United States has been striking the militants in Iraq since early August.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday that the country does not require foreign troops to enter Iraq to assist in the fight against the Islamic State.
“We don’t need [coalition] troops” on the ground in Iraq, Abadi said at a news conference in Baghdad. The Iraqi army is strong enough to battle the Islamic State, he said.
His comments came as Iraqi troops and Sunni tribesmen repelled the second assault in two days by Islamic State forces on the town of Amiriyah al-Fallujah, 25 miles west of Baghdad in Anbar province. The jihadists attacked at 4 a.m. Monday, and the ensuing gun battle lasted about five hours, said the province’s police chief.
The militants also launched an assault Sunday, and coalition airstrikes were reported to have forced them to retreat.
“But we expect another attack soon,” said Ahmed Saddak al-
Dulaimi, the police chief.