Turkish troops, Kurdish fighters exchange heavy shelling in Syria's Kobane

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BEIRUT, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Turkish troops and U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters exchanged heavy shellfire on Tuesday in the northern Syrian border town of Kobane, leaving one civilian dead as the conflict between the warring parties escalated.

The artillery fire hit within the town and around its edges, starting overnight and intensifying throughout the day, according to residents and the semi-autonomous local administration governing the town.

The administration said in an online statement that at least one child died due to the shelling and others were wounded.

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Ankara sees the semi-autonomous system – spearheaded by Kurdish factions and governing swathes of northern and eastern Syria – as a national security threat on its border.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged a new incursion to create a 30-kilometer safe zone in northern Syria, swallowing up Kobane and other towns held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Kobane has been relatively calm since U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters pushed back Islamic State fighters from the town in 2015.

But shelling and drone attacks have been ramping up in many border towns. At least three Kurdish commanders were killed last month which the SDF blamed on Ankara.

Dilvin, a shopkeeper and married mother of one, said scenes of chaos broke out in Kobane when the shelling intensified on Tuesday.

“People started running everywhere, cars everywhere, people asking about their friends and their family. Then the sounds started to build, the sounds were everywhere,” she told Reuters by phone from Kobane.

“There was so much screaming. So much fear. Now everyone is locked up at home,” said Dilvin, who preferred to identify herself with just a first name for security reasons.

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Reporting by Maya Gebeily, editing by Ed Osmond

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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