A woman near the Turkish border village of Mursitpinar reacts as smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobane after air strikes from the US-led coalition on jihadist militants on October 13, 2014
A woman near the Turkish border village of Mursitpinar reacts as smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobane after air strikes from the US-led coalition on jihadist militants on October 13, 2014 © Aris Messinis - AFP
A woman near the Turkish border village of Mursitpinar reacts as smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobane after air strikes from the US-led coalition on jihadist militants on October 13, 2014
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Burak Akinci
Last updated: October 14, 2014

Kurdish family split between safety and death in Kobane battle

Banner Icon Just five kilometres (three miles) separates Dursun Nahsen from her son Resad. But this short distance is the difference between her refuge in the relative peace of Turkey and the deadly battle for the town of Kobane.

And it is this wrenching separation, which begins at the barbed wire of the Turkish-Syrian border, that Dursun Nahsen is finding increasingly hard to bear.

The mainly Kurdish Syrian town of Kobane, where Resad is fighting alongside People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters against Islamic State jihadists is so close to the Turkish border that the fighting is clearly visible and audible on the other side.

But with Resad engaged in the deadly fighting against militants who have already seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, Kobane might as well be light years away for his mother.

"I have had no more news from him since we were forced to flee to Turkey," Dursun Nahsen, 60, says with a pained smile. "It's now 20 days.

"Clearly, I am now very worried for him. He is everything for me. He is my heart, my pearl," she added.

"I have four children. One already died in a car accident. I want him to come back to me."

She is one of an estimated 200,000 people, mainly Kurds, who fled to Turkey to escape the advance of the jihadists. But like her, many left behind loved ones to fight the extremists.

The YPG fighters have over the last few days managed to hold up the IS advance on Kobane with the help of air strikes carried out by a US-led coalition. The strikes are greeted with cheers by the Kurds on the Turkish side of the border.

Although precise casualty details are not available, the fighting for Kobane has been relentless and bloody.

Every day, refugees on the Turkish side of the border bid a final farewell to loved ones killed in the fighting and whose corpses are brought over the border for burial.

Like his wife, Resad's father Muslim Osman lives in hope of hearing a sign of life from his son.

- 'Proud of him' -

"I do not fear for him because it is God the merciful who decides everything. Of course I am worried though. But what am I supposed to do?"

Like most of the other Syrian refugees, the 70-year old grocer spends most of his time waiting -- for news of Kobane, and of his son.

With the improbable hope that one day they will be reunited.

"Of course I am proud of him. But that hardly will mean much, if like others, he dies," he said.

Many of the Kurdish refugees who fled the IS onslaught on Kobane have found refuge at the homes of relatives on the Turkish side of the border.

But Muslim Osman has been helped by the hospitality of the authorities of the border town of Suruc and like several others is living in the storage section in the basement of a building.

The families exist in precarious circumstances, often without water or proper sanitary facilities.

Resad's father has problems imagining how there can be any kind of future for the family.

The IS jihadists "have now entered the centre of the city. There is street fighting. If Kobane falls, it will be a disaster for all of us."

In the refugee camps, accounts of the beheadings and torture carried out by the jihadists are discussed at length.

Even if the jihadists are eventually repelled, the horrors of the IS advance will mark Kobane forever, said Muslim Osman.

"Going back to how it was is impossible."

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