The attacks aimed at assisting Kurdish fighters defending the border town of Kobani were part of nine over the last two days conducted by the coalition partners, using bomber, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft.

Smoke rises after a US-led airstrike on the ISIL-besieged Syrian town of Kobani on Wednesday. Murad Sezer / Reuters
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WASHINGTON // UAE and US airstrikes forced ISIL militants from neighbourhoods in Kobani on Wednesday as Kurdish fighters struggled to save the town on the border between Syria and Turkey.

The attacks were part of nine strikes in Syria over the last two days conducted by the coalition partners, using bomber, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft, the US military said.

“All aircraft exited the strike areas safely,” the US Central Command statement added.

The airstrikes come amid growing pressure for international action to halt the advance of ISIL, which has carried out beheadings and other atrocities in the large areas of Iraq and Syria that have fallen under its control.

France on Wednesday backed Turkish calls for a buffer zone along the Syrian-Turkish frontier. The US and Britain said they were willing to “examine” the idea of a safe haven.

Airstrikes near Kobani increased after ISIL hoisted its black flag on the eastern edge of the city on Monday. On Wednesday, the US said they had pushed back the group, which had appeared set to seize the Syrian town after a three-week assault.

Military commanders, however, warned that the town could still fall to the extremists and that it would take more than air power to prevent its capture.

“Air strikes alone are not going to do this, not going to fix this, not going to save the town of Kobani,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said. Ultimately, “capable” ground forces – rebel fighters in Syria and Iraqi government troops – would have to defeat the group, he said.

The US-led air campaign was launched in Iraq on August 8 and extended into Syria on September 23 with military support from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and Qatar. Its aim was to halt the advance of ISIL and to buy time to build up “moderate” rebel forces in Syria and Baghdad government and Kurdish troops in Iraq.

But despite the bombing raids, ISIL have continued to gain ground in some areas, including around Kobani.

About 200,000 people have flooded across the border into Turkey, but some residents who had fled said hundreds more remained two days after militants breached the town’s defences.

Wednesday’s airstrikes included four south of Kobani that destroyed an armoured personnel carrier, three vehicles and an artillery piece, Central Command said.

A fifth raid south-west of Kobani destroyed an ISIL armed vehicle while a sixth strike decimated an artillery cannon on the “southern edge” of the town.

Coalition warplanes on Wednesday also bombed two ISIL positions north-west of Raqqa, hitting a training camp, and a raid in Deir Ezzor, destroying a tank.

America’s top military officer yesterday acknowledged difficulties in tracking the militants from the air.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Martin Dempsey, said coalition aircraft were bombing ISIL whenever possible but the militants were often concealing their movements.

“We have been striking when we can,” Gen Dempsey told ABC News.

ISIL fighters are “a learning enemy and they know how to manoeuvre and how to use populations and concealment”, the general said.

He indicated the extremists were more difficult to track as they were staying off of mobile phones or other devices that could be monitored.

“They don’t fly flags and move around in large convoys the way they did,” he said. “They don’t establish headquarters that are visible or identifiable.”

Coalition planes also renewed airstrikes on ISIL in Iraq on Tuesday and Wednesday, with five bombing raids by fighter jets and unmanned drones, Central Command said.

The operation included three strikes west of Baghdad, where Iraqi government forces are under pressure from the militants.

One raid east of Fallujah destroyed an ISIL checkpoint and armed vehicle, a strike in western Ramadi destroyed three ISIL buildings and two anti-aircraft artillery pieces and a bombing run north-west of Ramadi destroyed an ISIL checkpoint, it said.

Coalition forces, which included British and Dutch warplanes, also bombed targets near Mount Sinjar in two strikes.

The coalition has flown more than 4,800 sorties, including refuelling and surveillance flights, since the air campaign began on August 8.

The US has conducted an the majority of the air strikes and other flights, using planes at bases in the region as well as fighter jets on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press