Vancouver Sun

ISLAMIC STATE:

UN OFFICIAL WARNS OF MASSACRE

- LEFTERIS PITARAKIS AND JOHN HEILPRIN With files from The Washington Post

MURSITPINA­R, Turkey — In a dramatic appeal, a UN official warned that hundreds of civilians who remain trapped in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani near the border with Turkey would probably be “massacred” by advancing extremists and called on Ankara to help prevent a catastroph­e.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, speaking to reporters in Geneva, raised the spectre of some of the worst genocides of the 20th century to underscore concerns as the Islamic State group pushed into Kobani from the south and east.

“You remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot. And probably we never forgave ourselves for that,” he said, referring to the 1995 slaughter of thousands of Muslims by Bosnian Serb forces.

De Mistura held up a map of Kobani and said a UN analysis shows only a small corridor remains open for people to enter or flee the town.

A local Kurdish official and Syrian activists said militants shelled Kobani’s single border crossing with Turkey in an effort to capture it and seal off the town.

In other developmen­ts Friday:

• U. S. State Department spokeswoma­n Marie Harf, speaking to reporters in Washington, said Turkey “has agreed to support train and equip efforts for the moderate Syrian opposition,” though she did not mention any progress on Kobani.

• The U. S. Central Command said in a statement that the U. S.- led coalition conducted nine airstrikes in Syria on Thursday and Friday. It said strikes near Kobani destroyed two Islamic State training facilities, as well as vehicles and tanks.

• Activists said at least nine civilians were killed in a government airstrike that targeted the village of Harra in the southern province of Daraa. More than 20 people were also killed a day earlier in government airstrikes in Damascus suburbs, they said.

• Members of Britain’s Muslim community have declared their support for fundraisin­g efforts that would go to the family of Alan Henning — who was captured and executed by the Islamic State group — as well as the causes he has supported.

• Henning was not a Muslim, but was working with an Islamic charity when he travelled to Syria. A number of British Muslims had written a letter asking for Henning’s release.

 ?? ARIS MESSINIS/ AFP/ GETTY IMAGES ?? Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani where hundreds of civilians may be trapped in the face of advancing Islamic State forces.
ARIS MESSINIS/ AFP/ GETTY IMAGES Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani where hundreds of civilians may be trapped in the face of advancing Islamic State forces.

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