Kobane: Islamic State battles to encircle Syrian Kurds. Malala and Kailash Satyarthi win Nobel Peace Prize

Kobane: Islamic State battles to encircle Syrian Kurds

Quentin Sommerville says he can hear frequent explosions coming from the town

The Kurdish defenders of the Syrian border town of Kobane have held back advancing Islamic State fighters, with the US supplying air support.

The Kurds repulsed a pre-dawn attack and still control the town’s border crossing point with Turkey.

Correspondents say the crossing point is a vital supply and exit route.

The Pentagon reports that US planes have been bombing IS targets to the north and south of Kobane since Friday.

US and other aircraft from the international coalition also carried out air strikes on IS targets inside Iraq as well as dropping supplies to Iraqi government forces at Baiji, where Iraq’s biggest oil refinery is located.

In Iraq’s Anbar province, officials reportedly made an urgent appeal for military help against IS.

Haze and dustAs the sounds of battle continued on Saturday, haze and dust obscured Kobane, making air strikes more difficult but not impossible, the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville said in a tweet from the Syria-Turkey border.

The Kurdish militiamen have pushed back the latest IS advance but the militants are being easily resupplied from the south and the east and are able to launch further attacks, our correspondent says.

Amid the sound of gunfire, black plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the south and west of the town, another foreign journalist at the scene, Derek Henry Flood, tweeted.

According to the Pentagon, the new US air strikes on IS targets at Kobane hit an IS fighting position, damaged a command and control facility, destroyed a staging building; struck two small units of fighters; and destroyed three lorries.

Several hundred civilians are still believed to be in Kobane. UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has warned they could be massacred by IS if the town falls.

Smoke rises over Kobane, 11 October (photo: Derek Henry Flood) Smoke rises over Kobane on Saturday as seen from the Turkish border
The gravestone of a Kurdish fighter buried near the Turkish town of Suruc, across the border from Kobane, 11 October The fresh gravestone of a Kurdish fighter buried near the Turkish town of Suruc, across from Kobane
Turkish forces are ranged on the border but have not crossed, 10 OctTurkish forces are ranged on the border but have not crossed
An F/A-18C Hornet leaves the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush in The Gulf, 10 OctoberAn F/A-18C Hornet leaving the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush on Friday
Refugees in Turkey, 11 OctTens of thousands of refugees have fled over the border into Turkey
Kurds demonstrate in Duesseldorf, Germany, 11 OctoberThere have been protests across Europe in support of Kobane’s Kurds, including here in Duesseldorf
There have been protests across Europe in support of Kobane's Kurds, including here in Dusseldorf, 11 OctImages of jailed Turkish Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan could be seen at the rally in Duesseldorf

Since the IS offensive against Kobane began in mid-September, some 500 people have been killed and up to 200,000 have fled across the border into Turkey.

Mr de Mistura called on Turkey to allow Kurdish volunteers to cross into Syria with equipment “to be able to enter the city to contribute to a self-defence operation”.

Targets hit by US-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria

Turkey has ranged its military forces on the border but has so far ruled out any ground operation on its own, and has refused to allow Kurds in Turkey to cross the border to fight.

Accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of inaction, Kurdish refugees from Kobane told Reuters news agency they feared they would be unable to return to their homes.

“If the United States helps us, we could return,” said one. “If the United States is willing to help, not like Erdogan, we could return today.”

At least 20,000 Kurds living in Germany have marched in the city of Duesseldorf to highlight the threat to Kurds in Kobane.

Air dropsUS and Dutch aircraft attacked IS targets near the towns of Tal Afar and Hit in northern Iraq, the Pentagon said in a statement.

In the operation in the Baiji area, food, water and ammunition were dropped to Iraqi security forces.

At least 14 people died in violence in Iraq on Saturday: four injured soldiers were killed when their ambulance was attacked in a “friendly fire” incident near Baquba while a suicide bomber killed at least seven people in a market in Meshahda, near Baghdad.

In Anbar, the provincial council asked for US ground troops to help fight IS, the Dubai-based Iraqi TV channel Al-Sharqiyah reports.

The vice-president of the council, Faleh al-Issawi, warned Anbar could “fall in 10 days”.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has repeatedly ruled out any foreign ground troops in Iraq.

John Simpson on the IS front line with the Iraqi army

IS fighters control large stretches of territory in Syria and Iraq. The group is known for its brutal tactics, including mass killings, abductions of members of religious and ethnic minorities, and the beheadings of soldiers and journalists.

Map showing air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq since 8 Aug 2014

Malala and Kailash Satyarthi win Nobel Peace Prize

Malala Yousafzai said she was in a chemistry lesson when she heard the news

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Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian child rights campaigner, have jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize.

At the age of just 17, Malala is the youngest ever recipient of the prize.

The teenager was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in October 2012 for campaigning for girls’ education. She now lives in Birmingham in the UK.

Malala said she was “honoured” to receive the award, saying it made her feel “more powerful and courageous”.

She revealed she found out the news after being called out of her chemistry class at her school in Birmingham.

“I’m really happy to be sharing this award with a person from India,” she said at a news conference, before joking that she couldn’t pronounce Mr Satyarthi’s surname.

The Nobel committee praised the pair’s “struggle against the suppression of children and young people”.

Mr Satyarthi has maintained the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and headed various forms of peaceful protests, “focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” the committee said at the Nobel Institute in Oslo.

The 60-year-old founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or the Save the Childhood Movement, which campaigns for child rights and an end to human trafficking.

Reacting to the news, Mr Satyarthi told the BBC: “It’s a great honour for all the Indians, it’s an honour for all those children who have been still living in slavery despite of all the advancement in technology, market and economy.

“And I dedicate this award to all those children in the world.”.

Thorbjorn Jagland head of Nobel committee, cited Malala’s “heroic struggle”

‘Heroic struggle’Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, paid tribute to Malala’s achievements.

“Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzai, has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education and has shown by example that children and young people too can contribute to improving their own situations,” he said.

“This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education.”

The committee said it was important that a Muslim and a Hindu, a Pakistani and an Indian, had joined in what it called a common struggle for education and against extremism.

File picture from 1996 of Kailash Satyarthi shooting a videoKailash Satyarthi, seen here making a film in 1996, has fought for the rights of child labourers

The view from Birmingham: Phil Mackie, BBC NewsWhen she opened the Library of Birmingham last year, Malala Yousafzai charmed the crowd by referring to them as “fellow Brummies”. It was a deft touch from a teenager who many believe is destined for a life in politics either here or in her native Pakistan.

She arrived in the city in horrific circumstances after surviving an assassination attempt and was treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, home to the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine.

The expertise gained by medics who are used to patching up wounded troops from conflict zones, meant it was the best place for her treatment.

She remains an outpatient, and today the hospital trust praised her for her “remarkable recovery and fight to lead a full life as a vibrant and spirited teenager”.


This year’s prize is likely to be seen as an uncontroversial choice from a Norwegian Nobel committee which has not shied away from controversy in recent years, says the BBC’s Lars Bevanger in Oslo.

Norway’s relations with China are still suffering after a Chinese dissident won the peace prize in 2010, our correspondent adds.

Malala and Mr Satyarthi will now be invited to attend an award ceremony in Oslo in December to receive a medal and $1.4m (£860,000) pounds in prize money.

‘Pride of Pakistan’

Malala first came to attention in 2009 after she wrote an anonymous diary for BBC Urdu about life under Taliban rule in north-west Pakistan.

She was shot when gunmen boarded her school bus in the Swat Valley.

Kailash Satyarthi said Malala was a ‘wonderful young lady’

She has since recovered from the attack and has remained in the public eye, publishing an autobiography and addressing the UN General Assembly.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated Malala Yousafzai, calling her the “pride” of his country.

“Her achievement is unparalleled and unequalled. Girls and boys of the world should take the lead from her struggle and commitment,” he said in a statement.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined thousands of Twitter userspraising the pair, saying the entire nation was proud of Mr Satyarthi’s “momentous achievement”.

He also congratulated Malala for her “journey of immense grit and courage”.

Malala was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in 2013, and awarded the EU’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize that year.

Schoolgirls in Islamabad say they “are so very proud” of Malala Yousafzai

She had been hotly tipped to win last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Her win in 2014 takes the number of women awarded the prize to 16 out of 95.

This year’s record number of 278 Nobel Peace Prize nomineesincluded Pope Francis and Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege, although the full list was kept a secret.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta had also been tipped as favourites for the award.


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