Fighter jets have bombed targets near the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, activists in the town told Al Jazeera, as the US-led coalition continued its air campaign against the Islamic State (IS). Clashes have raged around Kobane, known as Ain al-Arab in Arabic, for two weeks as IS captured dozens of villages and tried to push into the town itself.
About 160,000 people have fled the fighting, crossing into Turkey, which is just a few hundred metres away. Reports from the Turkish side of the border, said smoke could be seen from the eastern side of the town on Saturday after what sounded like an explosion.
Kurdish sources inside Kobani, where fighters had been preparing for street battles should ISIL manage to penetrate their defences, said they had been informed of the strikes in advance so they could pull back from some frontlines. Locals said the village of Alishera, held by IS and just a few kilometres from the border, had been hit by one of four strikes on Saturday morning.
No US confirmation
The US-led coalition did not say whether it had carried out air raids in the area. The US, backed by Arab allies, launched its first air strikes on IS targets in Syria on Tuesday after hitting hundreds of targets in neighbouring Iraq, where the group has also captured large swaths of territory.
In Syria, the group has established its headquarters in the northern Raqqa province, which it fully controls. The group, which has declared an Islamic "caliphate" that has not been widely recognised, has killed hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi soldiers and also civilians, making gruesome beheadings their trademark killing method.
Activists in Raqqa told Al Jazeera that the US-led coalition had hit several IS positions in the province on Saturday, killing dozens of fighters. Several attacks targeted the Tabqa air base, which the self-declared jihadists captured from the regime last month. An IS training camp was also hit, as well as one of the group's checkpoints, the activists said.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported strikes for the first time in Homs province, east of the desert town of Palmyra, famed for its ancient ruins.