Iraqi Kurds, Syrians Battle IS in Kobani

(Reuters) -

Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Syrian rebels bombarded Islamic State positions in Kobani on Monday, but it was unclear if this would turn the tide.

Kobani has become a symbolic test of the U.S.-led coalition’s ability to halt the advance of Islamic State, which has poured weapons and fighters into its assault of the town, and has lasted more than a month.

The battle has deflected attention from significant gains elsewhere in Syria by Islamic State, which has seized two gas fields within a week from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the center of the country.

In Iraq, the group has executed more than 300 members of a Sunni tribe that dared oppose it last week, after seizing the tribe’s village in the Euphrates valley west of Baghdad. On Monday a member of the tribe said another 36 members had been executed in the provincial capital Anbar.

White smoke billowed into the sky as peshmerga and FSA fighters appeared to combine forces, a Reuters witness said.

The U.S. military said it bombed Islamic State positions in Syria five times and in Iraq nine times on Sunday and Monday, including near Kobani.