Activist group says more than 800 people killed since battle for Syrian town of Kobani began

A Syrian activist group said Sunday that the death toll in 40 days of fighting in and around the northern Syrian border town of Kobani has reached 815, as Kurdish fighters battled Muslim militants for a hill west of the town.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll includes 21 Kurdish civilians and 302 fighters with the main Kurdish force known as the Peoples Protection Units, or YPG. It said 481 fighters with the Islamic State group have been killed since the battles began.

IS fighters launched a wide offensive on Kobani in mid-September capturing dozens of Kurdish villages and entering parts of the town. The attack has displaced more than 200,000 people who crossed for safety in Turkey.

On Saturday, IS launched an attack on a Kurdish-held neighborhood in Kobani without succeeding in advancing, the Observatory said. It added that seven IS fighters were killed as well as several YPG fighters.

An Associated Press reporter on the Turkish side of the border said occasional mortar fire could be heard in the center and west of the town as well as occasional gunfire. At least one airstrike was carried out by the U.S.-led coalition.

The U.S. Central Command said in a statement that five airstrikes near Kobani destroyed seven IS vehicles and an IS building. It said the five airstrikes were conducted on Saturday and Sunday.

Last week, the U.S. Central Command said that its forces conducted more than 135 airstrikes against the militants in and around Kobani, killing hundreds of IS fighters.

Idriss Nassan, a Kurdish official from Kobani, said the fighting concentrated Sunday on the Izaa hill west, of the town. That area is close to the strategic Tel Shair hill, which overlooks parts of the town. Kurdish fighters recently regained control of the Tel Shair hill.

"The units (YPG) are advancing slowly on the eastern and southern fronts," Nassan said. "The situation is relatively calm compared with yesterday."

The Observatory said YPG fighters attacked two IS vehicles west of Kobani Sunday inflicting casualties among jihadis.

Also Sunday, state news agency SANA reported that rebels in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo fired two mortar shells, killing an adult and a child and wounding several others when they hit a school.

The Observatory said one of the shells hit the Hoda Shaarawi school, while the second fell in front of it.

Aleppo, once Syria's commercial capital, has seen heavy fighting since rebels seized part of the city in 2012.

In the central province of Homs, a government air raid on the town of Talbiseh late Saturday killed 18 people, including 10 children and three women, the Observatory said. It added that 16 of the dead were from the same family.

Talbiseh was one of the first towns to rise up against President Bashar Assad's government after the uprising that later turned into a civil war began in March 2011. The war has killed more than 190,000 people, according to the U.N.


Mroue reported from Beirut.