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The Moment Airstrike Stopped Islamic State Reaching Kobane (For Now)

08/10/2014 11:01 BST | Updated 08/10/2014 11:59 BST

Outgunned Kurdish fighters struggling to defend the Syrian border town of Kobane have had a belated, yet welcome boost from a series of US-led airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) militants.

The strikes, pictured from across the Turkish border, sent huge columns of black smoke into the sky,

The limited coalition strikes have done little to blunt Islamic State's three-week offensive against the town on the doorstep of Europe (and Nato) as jihadist fighters relentlessly shelled the town in preparation for a final assault.

Kobane airstrikes

Senior US officials told CNN that preventing Islamic State, also known as Isis and Isil, taking Kobane is not a high priority, with the administration's key focus being Iraq. Several told the broadcaster that the priorities were hitting senior Islamic State leaders, targeting oil refineries and the group's operational infrastructure.

Privately, the US is said to be hoping Turkey will step up and take the lead to stop the onslaught on its border. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the coalition air campaign launched last month would not be enough to halt Islamic State's advance and called for greater cooperation with the Syrian opposition, which is fighting both the extremists and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"Kobane is about to fall," Erdogan told Syrian refugees in the Turkish town of Gaziantep, near the border. "We asked for three things: one, for a no-fly zone to be created; two, for a secure zone parallel to the region to be declared; and for the moderate opposition in Syria and Iraq to be trained and equipped."

Turkish tanks and other ground forces have been stationed along the border within a few hundred meters (yards) of the fighting in Kobane — also known as Ayn Arab — but have not intervened. Just days ago, Turkey said it wouldn't let Kobane fall.

Kurdish protesters clashed with police in Turkey leaving at least 14 people dead and scores injured. Turkey's Dogan news agency reported eight dead in the eastern city of Diyarbakir and that the other victims died in cities in the east as police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters who burned cars and damaged businesses.

Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Istanbul and in the desert town of Kucuk Kenderciler, near Kobane on the Turkish side of the border. One person in Istanbul was hospitalised after being hit in the head by a gas canister, Dogan reported.

Some protesters shouted "Murderer ISIS!" and accused Turkey's government of collaborating with the Islamic militants.

Hundreds of thousands of Kurds live elsewhere in Europe, and mobilized quickly via social networks to stage protests after the advance on Kobane. A group of Kurdish and pro-Kurdish demonstrators occupied Heathrow Airport's Terminal 2 on Tuesday to demand more action from British authorities.

In Brussels on Tuesday, about 50 protesters smashed a glass door and pushed past police to get into the European Parliament. Once inside, some protesters were received by Parliament President Martin Schulz, who promised to discuss the Kurds' plight with NATO and EU leaders.

In Germany, home to Western Europe's largest Kurdish population, about 600 people demonstrated in Berlin on Tuesday, according to police. Hundreds demonstrated in other German cities. Austria, too, saw protests.

Kurds peacefully occupied the Dutch Parliament for several hours Monday night, and met Tuesday with legislators to press for more Dutch action against the insurgents, according to local media.

The Netherlands has sent six F-16 fighter jets to conduct airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq, but says it does not see a mandate for striking in Syria.

France, too, is firing airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Iraq but not in Syria, wary of implications on international efforts against President Bashar Assad.

"We don't understand why France is acting in Kurdistan in Iraq and not Kurdistan in Syria," said Fidan Unlubayir of the Federation of Kurdish Associations of France.

Kurds protested overnight at the French Parliament and plan another protest Tuesday. Kurds also staged impromptu protests against the Islamic State fighters in Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm.