The US-led coalition have led a series of fresh air strikes on Islamic State (IS) positions surrounding the Kurdish city of Kobane.

The Kurdish YPG fighters protecting Kobane are armed only with light weapons against IS forces that have bombarded the city for three weeks with heavy artillery and tanks.

At least 400 Syrians have been killed in the fighting, with around 180,000 more fleeing over the border into Turkey.

On Monday night, IS militants began to invade the city from the east and south under the cover of darkness, but YPG fighters have been able to repel their advances with the aid of air strikes from the US-led coalition.

The US confirmed that there had been five strikes around Kobane on Monday and Tuesday, and that the attacks had destroyed four IS armed vehicles and one “IS unit” and damaged an IS tank and armoured vehicle.

The air strikes appear to have briefly quietened the fighting, with fewer gunshots and artillery strikes being heard in the city on Tuesday than in the previous days.

Turkey, home to NATO’s second largest military, has manoeuvred a number of tanks to the Syria-Turkey a few hundred metres from Kobane, but has not intervened as IS militants advanced.

On a recent visit to a refugee camp, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that air bombardment alone could not combat IS advances and the US-led coalition would also need to secure a no-fly zone, a secure zone parallel to that, and the training of moderate Syrian rebels. After fighting a decades-long civil war with Kurdish YPG fighters, who remain classed as a terrorist organisation by the US, Turkey does not consider them a moderate ally and has opposed arming them like the international community has done with the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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