The Sunni Muslim insurgents, who launched their assault on Kobani more than a week ago, besieging it from three sides, took control of high ground to the west of the town and a village to the east in fierce fighting. More than 140,000 Kurds have fled Kobani and surrounding villages since last Friday, crossing into Turkey. The U.N. refugee agency has said the entire 400,000 population of the town could flee.
Kurds watching the fighting west of Kobani from hills on the Turkish side of the border -- Syrian refugees and Turks among them -- said they feared an imminent Islamic State assault on the town and called for U.S.-led air strikes on the insurgents.
"After here it's flat to Kobani. It'll be easy (for them)," said one Turkish Kurd who gave his name as Mohammed. "Where is America, where is England, why are people not helping?" said another villager, Ali.
The siege of Kobani has fuelled Kurdish anger not just at the Sunni insurgents but also against the Turkish state. Kurdish militants fought a three-decade insurgency for greater rights in southeast Turkey, and many Kurds accuse Ankara of supporting the Islamist insurgents against their ethnic kin.
Several hundred unarmed protesters who had gathered on the Turkish side of the border in solidarity with the Syrian Kurds at one point broke through a barbed wire fence and rushed towards Kobani in an apparent bid to help defend it.
The group, including pro-Kurdish politicians from Turkey, later gathered on a railway line on the Syrian side of the border, clashing with Turkish security forces who fired tear gas and were initially reluctant to let them back in.
U.S.-led air strikes have targeted Islamic State fighters elsewhere in Syria but some Kurdish military officials have said they made the situation in Kobani more precarious by pushing the Sunni insurgents towards the Turkish border.